Alabama Drops Game, Makes SEC Tourney

Mississippi State evened the series with a 9-3 win Friday night in Tuscaloosa, but the Crimson Tide clinched a spot in next week's Southeastern Conference Tournament in Hoover thanks to some help around the league.

Alabama (30-24, 14-15 SEC) will try to improve its NCAA Tournament resume when it goes for the regular season finale series win on Saturday at 2 p.m.

Friday night's SEC results locked Bama into either the No. 6 or No. 7 seed in the SEC Tournamemnt, meaning the Tide will play the 10 a.m. Wednesday morning game against the SEC Western Division Champ, either Arkansas, Ole Miss or Mississippi State, in the opening round.

Alabama clinched its Southeastern Conference Tournament spot by virtue of Auburn's win over Kentucky, it's second in the series, and Florida's win over Tennessee earlier Friday evening. Vanderbilt's win over LSU ensured that Bama can finish only seventh seventh in overall SEC standings, considering all tiebreakers.

Mississippi State senior Brian LaNinfa drove in four runs, and, and pitcher Justin Pigott (5-5) allowed six hits and one run in eight innings of work. Pigott struck out five and walked two. Mike Valentine threw the ninth inning.

MSU scored twice in the first and third innings and blew the contest open with three scores in the sixth.

Alabama starter Miers Quigley (4-7) took another loss, giving up seven runs and all nine Mississippi State hits.

The Bulldogs put the game out of reach with a three-run sixth inning to take a 7-0 lead. Jeffrey Rea and McCaskill started the two-out rally with back-to-back RBI singles to put State up 6-0.

Quigley suffered his seventh straight loss. He left the game after McCaskill's two-out base hit up the middle. Quigley gave up seven runs and nine hits in 5 2/3 innings with three walks and four strikeouts. He has not won since beating Tennessee on March 16, 2007 in the SEC opener.

Casey Kebodeaux replaced Quigley and walked all three batters he faced, including a bases loaded walk to LaNinfa to make the score 7-0. Senior right-hander Patrick Kelly struck out Connor Powers to end the inning as State left the bases loaded.

Alabama avoided the shutout with a run in the eighth inning off Pigott. After loading the bases with one out, Alex Avila grounded out to second base to drive in Greg Paiml, who drew a lead off walk.

MSU got two more runs in the eighth inning to take a 9-1 lead.

Alabama scored twice in the ninth of reliever Mike Valentine to make the final 9-3. Ryan Rhoden started the rally with a double down the left field line. Jeff Texada was hit by pitch and pinch-hitter Del Howell reached on a fielder's choice as Texada was erased at second base.

Paiml made a 9-2 game with an RBI single to left and Salem loaded the bases with an infield hit. Belcher then drew a bases loaded walk to force home Howell to make it 9-3. Avila grounded out to third base to end the game.


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