Tide Takes Sunday Slugfest At State
The final game of the series was cancelled due to Southeastern Conference policy regarding Sunday curfew and travel issues. The Tide played only two SEC games this weekend in Starkville marking the first time since 1998 that Alabama has not played all three game of an SEC series..
Senior center fielder Alex Kubal went 4-for-5 with three runs scored, one home run and five RBI and junior third baseman Brandon May went 3-for-6 with three runs scored, two home runs and seven RBI to lead the Crimson Tide to its fifth straight SEC road win.
Kubal's four hits and five RBI were both career highs, while May added a career-high seven RBI and matched his career best with two home runs.
Sophomore second baseman Ross Wilson had four hits, scored four runs and drove in three runs for the Tide.
Alabama (32-15, 14-9 SEC) has won five consecutive SEC road games for the first time since the 1997-98 seasons when UA beat Mississippi State (1), Mississippi (3) and Georgia (1). It is the first five-game winning streak in the same season since the Tide beat LSU (2) and Auburn (3) in succession in 1983.
Mississippi State (21-26, 6-17 SEC) has lost its last five SEC games.
The game originally began Saturday and was suspended after a 40-minute delay at 9:06 p.m. (CDT) due to rain and lightning, with MSU holding a 7-3 lead by scoring all seven runs in the first inning.
The game resumed on Sunday at 12:09 p.m. and the Tide scored eight runs in the seventh inning, highlighted by Kubal's second career grand slam to take an 11-7 lead.
Alabama sent 11 men to the plate and took an 11-7 lead by scoring eight runs in the top of the seventh inning against three different MSU pitchers. Kubal started the inning with a leadoff single and capped the frame with a grand slam down the left field line to put the Tide in front 11-7. His two hits in the frame tied the UA single-game record.
Lee Swindle stared the suspended game and retired Alabama in order in the sixth, but got only one out in the decisive seventh inning. Swindle (1-4) was charged with five runs on three hits in 1 1/3 innings in the loss. He also walked two batters.
Kubal opened the inning with an infield hit off the glove of MSU third baseman Russ Sneed. Freshman left fielder Taylor Dugas and sophomore second baseman Josh Rutledge drew back-to-back walks to load the bases. Wilson followed with an infield hit to score Kubal and senior right fielder Kent Matthes' sacrifice fly scored Dugas to make it 7-5..
May ripped a game-tying, one-out double into the left-center field gap to score Rutledge and Wilson and even the score at 7-7. Paxton Pace replaced Swindle and struck out junior designated hitter Jake Smith for the second out, but did not retire another hitter. Junior first baseman Clay Jones was hit by a pitch and senior catcher Vin DiFazio walked to reload the bases.
Kubal the smacked the first pitch he saw over the left field fence to give the Tide an 11-7 lead. Jared Wesson replaced Pace and walked Dugas on five pitches. Dugas stole second and third base in an attempt to end the inning on the base paths, before Rutledge struck out to end the inning.
MSU put two runners on base against Adam Scott in the bottom of the seventh inning when Brent Brownlee was hit by a pitch and Ryan Collins walked with no outs. Scott then retired the next three batters, including MSU leadoff man Grant Houge, who had a two-run double taken away on a spectacular diving catch in right-center field by Kubal. The play capped a tremendous seventh inning for the UA senior.
Following the catch, the game was stopped again for heavy rains and lightning. After a two-hour and 56-minute rain delay the game was finally resumed at 4:04 p.m. in the eighth inning.
When the game was resumed, Brandon May's two-run home run put the Tide in front 13-7.
The hit parade had just begun. MSU scored five times in the eighth on three consecutive home runs by Russ Sneed, Connor Powers and Ryan Duffy to whittle the lead to 13-12. An Alabama error also allowed a run to score in the inning.
The Crimson Tide came right back with four runs in the ninth inning to take a 17-12 lead. Kubal slapped a leadoff single and scored on Wilson's clutch two-out hit to left field to put the Tide up 14-12. Matthes reached on two-base throwing error by Sneed and May slammed a three-run home run to dead center, his second in as many at-bats, to give UA a 17-12 lead.
May went 3-for-3 with two home runs and seven RBI in the final three innings of the game against MSU.
MSU hit two more home runs off Adam Scott in the ninth inning to cut the lead to 17-16. Powers hit a two-run home run and Ryan Collins added a two-run home run.
Redshirt freshman Tyler White, a native of Brandon, Miss., replaced Scott on the mound and allowed a bunt single to Jet Butler before Ryan Powers lined out to May at third to end the marathon game. It was his second save of the season and first in SEC play.
The game lasted three hours and 49 minutes, which was slightly longer than the two rain delays which total three hours and 36 minutes.
Mississippi State scored seven runs in the bottom of the first inning and held a 7-3 lead when the game was suspended at the end of the fifth inning on Saturday night.
The Bulldogs scored all seven runs in the first inning off UA lefty Del Howell. Senior left fielder Jason Nappi, a native of Mountain Brook, Ala., highlighted the inning with a three-run double. Howell, who did not record an out until the 29th pitch of the inning, threw 45 pitches in the first inning.
Alabama had taken a 2-0 lead in the top of the first on Wilson's RBI double and Matthes' RBI single.
Alabama added another run in the second inning when first baseman Clay Jones and catcher Vin DiFazio reached on back-to-back to singles to put runners on the corners. Jones scored when Alex Kubal reached on a fielder's choice to cut the lead to 7-3.
Neither starter returned to the mound for Sunday's action. MSU lefty Nick Routt allowed three runs and seven hits in five innings with six strikeouts and one walk. Howell gave up seven runs on seven hits with three strikeouts and five walks in his five innings.
After a week off for final exams, Alabama will return to action on Friday at 6:35 p.m. (CDT) when the Crimson Tide hosts the Arkansas Razorbacks in the first game of a three-game series at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
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