Wilson Home Run Gets Tide Over Bulldogs

Alabama freshman second baseman Ross Wilson strolled to the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning knowing his team needed to score a run.



So, trailing 3-2 with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Hoover native slammed a 1-0 fastball over the wall in left field to give Alabama its only lead of the day in a 4-3 come-from-behind win over Mississippi State in the series finale Sunday afternoon at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

Wilson's home run was just one of five hits in the game for Alabama.

"We really needed to score there, because we knew Mississippi State had (Aaron) Weatherford in the bullpen," Wilson said. "It was a big lift for this team and we needed to win."

The win also put Alabama back into second place in the SEC Western Division standings, one-half game ahead of third-place Arkansas.

Wilson was the Tide's leading hitter against the Bulldogs, going 4-for-9 (.444) with three home runs and five RBI. He also scored five runs in the three-game series.

"Wilson came through with the big hit in a game where we did not generate a lot of offense," Alabama coach Jim Wells said. "We had a lot of bad at-bats today throughout the lineup."

Alabama (22-19, 8-10 SEC) took advantage of a two-out walk to win the game in the seventh inning. MSU right-hander Michael Busby retired the first two hitters on two pitches before issuing a four-pitch walk to Josh Rutledge. Wilson followed with his sixth home run of the season to give the Tide its sixth straight SEC home series win, dating back to last season.

Austin Graham (3-1), who got out of tough jam in the seventh inning on just three pitches out of the bullpen, pitched the final three innings for the win. He allowed two hits and struck out three MSU hitters.

He worked out of first and second, no out jam in the seventh inning as he relieved UA starter Robert Phares. Graham needed only three pitches to retire the side in the inning and set up Wilson's game-winning home run.

Mississippi State (15-23, 4-14 SEC) threatened again in the ninth inning, but left the tying run at third base when Ryan Duffy's hard ground ball was fielded by first baseman Wes Henderson to end the game.

In his last five outings, Graham has allowed only two runs in 11 innings and he has recorded 12 strikeouts.

"Graham continues to pitch well," Wells added. "He did another good job today out of the pen. He has really developed and is throwing all four of his pitches for strikes."

MSU had 12 hits in the loss and put at least one man on base in all nine innings Sunday, but left 11 men on base.

The Bulldogs scored all three runs in the first two innings to take a 3-0 lead. In the first inning, MSU took advantage of a pair of walks to Ryan Collins and Cody Freeman before Russ Sneed plated Collins with a double into right-center field.

In the second inning, Collins singled up the middle to score Jet Butler to give MSU a 2-0 lead. Grant Hogue, who was hit by a pitch, later scored on passed ball to give MSU a 3-0 lead.

Alabama came back with two runs in the bottom of the third inning to close the gap to 3-2. Junior right fielder Kent Matthes led off the inning with a line-drive to center and junior catcher Kyle Moore followed with double inside the third base bag into the left field corner to put runners at second and third with no outs. Junior first baseman Wes Henderson followed with a single to right field to score Matthes with the Tide's first run of the game. Sophomore third baseman Jake Smith brought home Moore with an infield ground out to cut the lead to 3-2.

Neither team scored again until the seventh inning, but both teams missed out on several scoring opportunities.

MSU starter Justin Pigott, making his first start since a shoulder injury on March 15, held the Tide to two runs and four hits through 5 2/3 innings. He added three walks and three strikeouts. He left the game in the sixth inning after a two-out error and walk.

Phares pitched into the seventh inning before leaving with two runners on base and not outs. He allowed three runs and nine hits, with four strikeouts and three walks. He left with runners at first and second and no outs.

Alabama returns to action on Tuesday, April 22 when the Crimson Tide hosts Lipscomb in a 6:35 p.m. (CDT) game at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The Crimson Tide will travel to Mobile to meet the South Alabama Jaguars on Wednesday, April 23 at 6 p.m., before returning home to take on in-state and SEC Western Division rival Auburn next weekend in three-game SEC series.

GAME NOTES:

*Alabama has won 51 of the 69 SEC home series under Jim Wells since the 1995 season. Dating back to the 2005 season, Alabama has won 16 of its last 18 SEC home series. The Crimson Tide has won six straight SEC home series, dating back to last season.

*Alabama junior right-hander Austin Graham has turned in five straight solid relief appearances since moving back to the bullpen after the LSU series on April 5. In his last five games, he has allowed two earned runs in 11 innings and struck out 12 batters.

*Freshman second baseman Ross Wilson was the Tide's leading hitter against Mississippi State, going 4-for-9 (.444) with three home runs and five RBI. He also scored five runs. Wilson hit a two-run home run in the seventh inning on Sunday to give the Tide its only lead in an eventual 4-3 win. He tied an Alabama record with two home runs in the seventh inning in UA's 21-7 win over MSU in the series opener. Wilson now has six home runs this season.

*Freshman shortstop Josh Rutledge his hitting streak to 17 games with a fifth-inning single on Sunday. Rutledge also extended is SEC hitting streak to 15 games. Overall, he has hit safely in 17 of 18 SEC games this season. Rutledge was 1-for-2 in the series finale with two walks and one run scored.

*Sophomore left fielder Brandon May went 0-for-4 to snap his nine-game hitting streak on Sunday.

*Junior DH Alex Avila went 0-for-4 to snap his 10-game hitting streak on Sunday.

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