Bennett Keys Alabama Sweep
"We knew today was going to be a big day because we got back on the right track with the win last night." Bennett said. "It's definitely a big weekend. It was the right hit at the right time, and that's pretty much it. Those were definitely two big games that we needed to win."
Alabama (25-15, 8-10 SEC) has won five straight series from Mississippi State for the first time since 1955-60, when the Crimson Tide won six in-a-row from the Bulldogs. Alabama closed out the weekend with its second straight sweep over the MSU marking the first time since 1959 the Crimson Tide has swept back-to-back series from the Bulldogs. It was also UA's first home sweep since 2002.
The Crimson Tide had two come-from-behind wins on Sunday, giving the Tide nine for the season.
"It was an interesting day, all the way around," Alabama Coach Mitch Gaspard said. "I'm proud of our team after really what we've been through the last month, knowing what was at stake this weekend and we desperately needed the sweep to kind of get some momentum going. They were put in some tough situations all weekend, and we fell behind. I think it shows the true character of our players."
Mississippi State (20-20, 5-13 SEC) has now lost six straight games to Alabama for the first time since 1997-98, when UA posted a six-game winning streak, including two wins in the 1997 College World Series.
Bennett, who was named to the Johnny Bench Award watch list on Saturday, went 2-for-4 with three RBI in the doubleheader and recorded the first two game-winning RBI in his UA career.
Game Two – Alabama 6, Mississippi State 4
Alabama scored five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, capped by Bennett's two-out, two-run single to center that scored senior third baseman Jake Smith and freshman pinch-runner Matt Taylor to give the Tide a 5-4 lead.
The Crimson Tide trailed 4-1 entering the bottom of the sixth and scored five runs and five hits to grab the lead. Sophomore shortstop Josh Rutledge led off the inning with a single and was erased at second base on when junior second baseman Ross Wilson reached on fielder's choice. Wilson took second when Scott Frost's relay throw from second sailed into the UA dugout.
Senior first baseman Clay Jones followed with an RBI single to left-center field to score Wilson and cut the lead to 4-2. Smith singled to right to put runners at first and second with one out. MSU freshman lefty Luke Bole then uncorked two wild pitches that allowed Jones to score and Smith to move to the third.
Trailing 4-3, Alabama pinch-hitter Brett Whitaker drew a walk and freshman right fielder Andrew Miller drew a walk against reliever Kendall Graveman to load the bases.
MSU lefty Trey Johnson, the third of four pitchers used in the inning, struck out UA sophomore left fielder Jon Kelton for the second out before Bennett knocked in the tying and go-ahead runs to put Alabama in front 5-4. Sophomore center fielder Taylor Dugas followed with an RBI single to center to score Miller and give Alabama the 6-4 lead.
Alabama junior left-hander Jonathan Smart (2-1) worked four innings for the win. He allowed one run and four hits with one walk and one strikeout.
Bole (2-1) took the loss for MSU after he allowed five runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out three and walked two.
Mississippi State led 4-1 in after four innings. The Bulldogs scored three times in the second when Russ Sneed homered and Wes Thigpen and Nick Vickerson added RBI singles. Thigpen, who had three hits and two RBI, homered in the fourth to make the score 4-1.
Alabama got a run in the first inning when Wilson drew a two-out walk and scored on Smith's RBI single to give the Tide a 1-0 lead.
Game One – Alabama 9, Mississippi State 8 (8 Innings)
Bennett's one-out single in the bottom of the eighth inning scored Miller from second base to lift Alabama to a 9-8 come-from-behind win over Mississippi State in the first game of the doubleheader.
Miller stroked a one-out double down the right field line and scored on Bennett's RBI single up the middle to give the Tide its fifth straight series win over the Bulldogs.
The Crimson Tide trailed 7-0 in the fourth inning but scored eight runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to take an 8-7 lead.
Senior third baseman Jake Smith put the Tide on the board with grand slam to cut the lead to 7-4. It was his fifth career grand slam and second of the season. Junior second baseman Ross Wilson gave the Tide its first lead with a three-run home run as UA sent 11 men to the plate in the fifth inning.
"Starting with game one, they get a big lead and we just come through with a big inning," Gaspard said. "Jake Smith hits the grand slam. Wilson hit the home run to kind of energize the place.
"Peanut (Nathan Kilcrease) once again comes in and does a tremendous job. Brock Bennett gets the big hit."
Mississippi State scored five runs in the third inning highlighted by Jaron Shepherd's three-run double. MSU added two runs in the fourth on a pair of bases-loaded walks to take a 7-0 lead.
Cody Freeman's RBI single in the sixth inning tied the game at 8-8 and forced extra innings.
Alabama junior right-hander Nathan Kilcrease pitched the final four innings for the win. He allowed one run and four hits with two strikeouts and one walk. MSU reliever Ben Bracewell (0-2) took the loss after he allowed one run and one hit in 1 1/3 innings.
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