4th Ranked Alabama Defeated MSU 9-5

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Beau Hearod belted a pair of home runs and pitcher Lance Cormier became Alabama's all-time career strikeouts leader Friday night as the No. 4 Crimson Tide turned back Mississippi State 9-5 in the opening game of a three-game series at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Alabama improved to 41-9 overall and 18-7 in the SEC while MSU dropped to 28-20-1 overall and 11-13 in the SEC.

"Alabama is a good-hitting ball club. There is a reason they are 29-2 at home," said MSU Coach Ron Polk. "At the same time, I was proud of our guys for coming back and scoring 2 runs in the 6th and 3 in the 7th."

Hearod opened the game's scoring and a four-run Alabama burst in the fourth inning with a pop fly solo home run over the right field wall, and added his 10th roundtripper of the season, a towering solo shot in the seventh inning.

Cormier recorded two strikeouts, both in his fifth inning, to became Alabama's all-time career strikeouts leader with 275. He gave up five runs on eight hits and walked four during his five-inning mound stint.

"(Alabama coach) Jim Wells told me after the ball game that he thinks Lance (Cormier) has pitched tired the last two or three outings," said Polk talking about the poor performance of Alabama's ace pitcher.

Alabama bunched seven of its 10 hits in the third and fourth innings off MSU starter Paul Maholm (8-3). The Crimson Tide, helped along by three Bulldog errors, batted through the order in the third inning. Adam Pavkovich doubled in two of Alabama's runs in the fourth inning when eight more Tide batters stepped to the plate.

"We didn't make some plays at that particular junction and that made him throw about 30 pitches," said Polk. "That takes a lot out of a pitcher on a very hot, humid night."

State battled back, scoring twice in the fifth on a double by Matthew Brinson and plating three more runs in the sixth on a balk and RBI singles by Robby Goodson and Casey Long. Long's single ended Cormier's stint, and freshman closer Taylor Tankersley came on to end the Bulldog rally and hold the Bulldogs scoreless the remainder of the game. He allowed just two baserunners in 3-2/3 innings of scoreless relief work and earned his fifth save.

"(Left-hander) Tankersley did a very good job against us," said Polk. "The disappointing thing is we are just having a tough time against left-handers. We just don't have enough right-handed punch in our lineup. We just don't have enough depth to match up against the good left-handers. The kids are trying."

Six of Alabama's 10 hits went for extra bases, including an eighth inning solo blast by Scott McClanahan that ended the game's scoring.

Maholm gave up seven runs, three of them unearned, six hits, walked two and struck out one in a season-shortest 3-2/3 inning start. Jeff Lacher matched a career-high with four innings of game-closing relief work for State.

"Jeff pitched good the first two innings," said Polk. "He got behind on the count and walked four. I think both home runs (he gave up) were pitches well above the belt and when he was behind on the count."

Matthew Maniscalco, Steve Gendron, Robby Goodson and Casey Long had two hits each for MSU, while Hearod had three hits to lead Alabama.

"I thought (Maniscalco) had some good at-bats," said Polk. "Hopefully, it will carry over to (Saturday)."

The teams continue their weekend series Saturday at 4 p.m., with MSU senior righty Tanner Brock (6-4) squaring off against Alabama lefty Jeffrey Norris (4-0).

"Tanner needs to pitch lights out tomorrow. We are hoping he can get us to at least the sixth-inning. We are in good shape (in the bullpen). We have to come out and see if we can go on the attack against a pretty good left-handed pitcher," said Polk. "We are going to have to score some runs."

MSU 000 023 000 - 5-9-3
ALABAMA 004 300 11X - 9-10-1
WP - Lance Cormier (9-2). LP - Paul Maholm (8-3). HR - (UA) Beau Hearod-2 (10), Scott McClanahan (9). T - 3:00. ATT - 5,711 (paid).

Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

Gene's Page Top Stories