Bama Edges Mississippi Valley State 3-1

When asked what he was hoping for from pither Brian Griggs Wednesday night Jim Wells said a complete game shutout would be nice. It wasn't quite that, but Griggs gave Alabama more than enough leading Alabama to a 3-1 win over Mississippi Valley State.

It was a rare midweek pitcher's duel at Sewell-Thomas Stadium with left-hander Brian Griggs making his first start of the season.

Griggs (1-0), pitching in just his third game of the season and first appearance since February 28, allowed one unearned run and five hits in six innings for his first career win for the Tide. He walked three batters and added seven strikeouts in his 100-pitch outing.

"I tried to throw strikes," Griggs said. "I thought I mixed my pitches well. The plan was to go right after them with the fastball and then with two strikes, mix in the change-up and curve ball."

Griggs had pitched only two innings in his previous two relief stints before Wednesday's outing against the Delta Devils.

Mississippi Valley State starter, senior right-hander Rudy Casias (1-4) held the Crimson Tide bats in check after he allowed three runs on four hits in the bottom of the first inning.

Alabama's offense wasted little time in taking a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Senior center fielder Emeel Salem reached on a lead off single and later scored on sophomore Alex Avila's sacrifice fly to give the Tide a 1-0 lead.

The Crimson Tide then put together three straight two-out hits, beginning with sophomore left fielder Kent Matthes' sixth home run of the season. Junior first baseman Matt Bentley followed with a base hit up the middle and scored on sophomore catcher Ryan Rhoden's RBI double to give the Tide a 3-0 lead.

"I am happy we won," Alabama head coach Jim Wells, who celebrated his 52nd birthday on Wednesday, said. "For a guy that has not pitched much, Griggs did okay. He had a few too many walks and hit batters. There is no excuse for the offensive lapse, but we will go to work again tomorrow."

Casias held the Crimson Tide without a run on just three hits over the final seven innings.

Will Stroup pitched three scoreless innings for his first save of the season for Alabama. He allowed one hit, one walk and struck out four batters.

Alabama returns to action this weekend as the Crimson Tide travels to Oxford, Miss., to take on No. 13 Ole Miss in a three-game series at Oxford-University Stadium at Swayze Field. The series opener is Friday, March 23 at 6:30 p.m. (CDT).

GAME NOTES:

*Junior left-hander Brian Griggs (Melbourne, Fla.) made his first start of the season for Alabama Wednesday night. Griggs is the eighth different starter on the mound for the Crimson Tide this year.

*Alabama leads the all-time series with Mississippi Valley State, 7-0. The Crimson Tide and Delta Devils have met every year since 2002.

*Alabama is now 41-4 all-time against teams from the Southwestern Athletic Conference, following Wednesday's win over Mississippi Valley State.

*Sophomore left fielder Kent Matthes (Orlando, Fla.) hit his team-leading sixth home run of the season in the first inning. He also leads UA with 28 RBI.

*Matthes' home run was the first home run by an Alabama cleanup hitter this year.

*MVSU's unearned run in the fifth inning was the Delta Devils' first run against the Crimson Tide since 2005, a span of 14 2/3 innings.

*Alabama snapped a three-game midweek losing streak Wednesday night.


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