Tide Defeats Bulldogs 15-7

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Alabama (33-21, 14-15 SEC) erupted for eight first-inning runs Saturday night and went on to post a series-tying 15-7 win over No. 17 Mississippi State (37-16-1, 16-12 SEC) before 3,117 fans at Dudy Noble Field. The start of the game was delayed six hours and 21 minutes by rain.

The Crimson Tide collected four hits and took advantage of three walks and a two-out fielding error to score eight runs, seven unearned, and stake Bama starter Brent Carter (9-5) to an early lead. Carter scattered 11 hits, struck out eight and walked one en route to his fifth complete-game pitching performance.

Travis Garner singled, tripled and stole home in the first inning and later scored after belting a second three-bagger that gave Alabama a 9-0 lead in the fourth. The Starkville native finished with a four-for-six outing three RBI, along with Beau Hearod and Allen Rice.

State starter Alan Johnson (5-3), in his briefest mound stint of the year, was touched for a lead-off walk by Garner but retired the next two batters before the roof caved in. The sophomore right-hander was charged with eight runs on four hits with three walks and one strikeout.

The Bulldogs trailed 13-0 before striking for five runs in sixth. Steve Gendron, who paced the Bulldogs with three hits on the night, laced a one-out single, Matthew Brinson drew a walk and Craig Tatum reached on a dropped fly ball by right-fielder Beau Hearod that loaded the bases. Brad Corley followed with a fly ball that left fielder Ryan Beagle dropped, allowing one run to score. Robby Goodson then ripped a bases-clearing double to right-center and scored MSU's fifth run in the inning on Thomas Berkery's single to center field.

The Bulldogs plated two more in the seventh, one on a double by Brinson and another on a single up the middle by Goodson, who finished the game with four RBI. The Bulldog designated hitter has nine runs batted in for the series and 13 in four games this week.

Freshman Brooks Dunn, who followed Johnson on the hill, worked a season-longest five innings, allowing five hits with a walk and two strikeouts. Another freshman, Brett Cleveland, worked the final three frames.

The series finale is set for 1:30 p.m. Sunday, with junior right-hander Jeff Lacher (5-0, 3.78) squaring off with Alabama righty Seth Johnson (6-4, 3.63). A Bulldog win in Sunday's finale would clinch a No. 4 seeding in the upcoming SEC Tournament opposite the loser of Sunday's Mississippi-Auburn game at Auburn.

ALA 800 122 002 --- 15-9-2
MSU 000 005 200 --- 7-11-2
WP --- Brent Carter (9-5). LP --- Alan Johnson (5-3). HR --- (UA) Beau Hearod (20). T --- 2:52. ATT -- 6,107 (paid), 3,117 (actual).

Alan Johnson, Brooks Dunn (2), Brett Cleveland (7) and Craig Tatum. Brent Carter and Charlie Lyons.

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