Alabama Holds On For Win Over State
Alabama (31-15, 13-9 SEC) scored five runs in the eighth inning to take a 10-1 lead, but watched the Bulldogs score seven runs over the final two innings to close the gap to 10-8 against the UA bullpen.
Sophomore second baseman Ross Wilson and sophomore shortstop Josh Rutledge combined for four hits and four RBI and scored two runs to pace UA's 13-hit attack.. Wilson and Rutledge had back-to-back RBI doubles in the four-run fourth inning and both drove in runs in the decisive eighth inning.
Austin Evans, Jimmy Nelson and Nathan Kilcrease yielded six runs on five hits with two walks and two hit batters in the final two innings as MSU brought the tying run to the plate in the final inning.
Mississippi State (21-25, 6-16 SEC) scored three runs in the eighth off Evans and Nelson to cut the lead to 10-4. Connor Powers and Russ Sneed had RBI singles and Jet Butler added an RBI ground out.
In the ninth, MSU added four more runs in the ninth inning to cut the lead to 10-8 and had the tying run at the plate when Jet Butler grounded out to end the game. MSU's runs in the final inning came on a ground, balk, wild pitch and sacrifice fly.
"Let's talk about the good stuff," Alabama Coach Jim Wells said. "We got into their bullpen and (Austin) Hyatt pitched well. We have to come out tomorrow with more intensity against their best pitcher (Nick Routt)."
Alabama scored five runs in the eighth inning to take a 10-1 lead. Rutledge drove in the first run with an RBI single and Wilson plated another run with a ground out. Junior DH Brandon May lined a sharp single to center field to score two more runs and senior catcher Vin DiFazio capped the inning with an RBI single.
The Crimson Tide took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on senior center fielder Alex Kubal's two-out single to center that scored Jake Smith.
Alabama added four runs on four straight two-out hits in the fourth inning to take a 5-0 lead. Junior first baseman Clay Jones drew a two-out walk and scored on Kubal's double down the left field line to put UA in front 2-0. Freshman left fielder Taylor Dugas followed with an RBI single and Rutledge and Wilson ripped back-to-back doubles to extend the lead to 5-0.
MSU starter Greg Houston (1-2) lasted only 3 2/3 innings and allowed five runs and four hits with four walks and three strikeouts in his first start of the season.
Hyatt pitched around a one-out double in the fourth inning and a two-out double in the fifth inning, but escaped his biggest jam in the sixth when he pitched around a pair of one-out walks. Jones preserved the shutout with a spectacular back-handed play at first to retire Ryan Duffy and Hyatt struck out Connor Powers to end the inning, leaving two runners in scoring position.
The 25-pitch sixth inning, coupled with UA's four-pitch seventh inning at the plate, led to a run in the seventh as Ryan Collins stroked a leadoff triple and scored on Russ Sneed's sacrifice fly to pull MSU to within 5-1.
Hyatt (7-1) pitched into the eighth inning and left the game after a leadoff walk to Brent Brownlee. Hyatt (7-1) allowed two runs and four hits with seven strikeouts and season-high four walks. He had issued only five walks in his 10 previous starts this season.
Alabama and Mississippi State will play game two of this three-game series on Saturday, May 2, at 6:30 p.m. (CDT) at Polk-Dement Stadium/Dudy Noble Field. Junior left-hander Del Howell, a native of Tuscaloosa, will pitch for the Crimson Tide.
*Alabama (31-15, 13-9) has won six or its last seven SEC games and 10 of its last 13 games, since April 4.
*The Crimson Tide scored five runs in the eighth inning and has now scored 18 runs in the eighth inning in its last three Friday night games. UA scored six runs in the eighth inning in its 10-4 win at Vanderbilt on April 17 and added seven runs in the eighth inning in its 11-6 win over Kentucky last week. The Tide scored five runs in the eighth tonight to stretch its lead to
*Senior right-hander Austin Hyatt (Marietta, Ga.) issued a two-out walk to MSU catcher Cody Freeman in the bottom of the first inning to snap his streak of 25 consecutive innings without a walk. Hyatt's last walk came in the eighth inning against Tennessee on April 4. He finished the game with a season-high four walks and has now walked nine in 80 (plus tonight) innings this year.
*Sophomore second baseman Ross Wilson (Hoover) went 2-for-5 with two RBI in Friday's win to extend his hitting streak to six games.
*Alabama play-by-play announcer Chris Stewart was named the 2008 Alabama Sportscaster of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association (NSSA).. Stewart will receive his award from the organization this weekend at the NSSA and Hall of Fame's 50th Annual Awards Program in Salisbury, N.C. This is the third time Stewart has earned the honor from the NSSA, having previously been named Alabama's Sportscaster of the Year in 2004 and 2007. Mick Gillispie, the voice of the Southern League's Tennessee Smokies, filled in for Stewart in Starkville this weekend. Gillispie is also the voice of the Alabama women's basketball team and worked alongside Stewart for the first 30 games of the baseball season before leaving for his job with the Smokies.
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