Alabama Rallies to Defeat MSU

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Alabama erupted for four runs in the seventh inning and turned back an eighth-inning Mississippi State threat Saturday to post a series-clinching 9-7 win at Sewell-Thomas Field. Alabama improved to 42-9, a league-leading 19-7 in SEC competition, while State dropped to 28-21-1 overall and 11-14 in the SEC. The loss, coupled with an 11-5 Arkansas win Saturday at Mississippi, leaves MSU percentage points ahead of the Razorbacks (27-21, 10-13) in fifth place in the SEC West.

Brent Boyd went 3-for-4 with two doubles, the second a two-run shot off MSU relief pitcher Jonathan Papelbon (2-4) that gave Alabama a 7-6 lead in the seventh. Travis Garner followed with a double and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Beau Hearod.

State jumped out to a 4-0 lead when four of the first five Bulldog batters singled off UA starter Jeffrey Norris in the first inning. Norris gave up seven hits and five runs during his 3.1 innings on the mound. Matthew Maniscalco opened the game and a career-best 5-for-5 plate plate performance with a single. Jason Burkley and Casey Long delivered RBI singles and Enrico Jones plated a run with a sacrifice fly to center field. Burkley left the game in the bottom of the first after sustaining a thumb injury. He was replaced by freshman catcher J.B. Tucker.

Scott McClanahan belted a solo home run in the bottom of the first as Alabama chipped away at the MSU lead, scoring single runs in the first three innings.

State expanded its lead to 5-3 with a run in the fourth when Winston Pearson reached on the an error at second, Maniscalco doubled to left and Steve Gendron drove in a run with an infield single. Alabama answered the next inning with a pair of runs of relief pitcher Chris Young who replaced MSU starter Tanner Brock with one out in the fourth.

Three Alabama singles, a walk and a fielder's choice grounder enabled the Tide to tie the score at 5-5 in the fifth. An inning-ending double play, the second of a season-high four on the day for the Bulldogs, cut short what could have been a much bigger Alabama rally.

Brent Lewis doubled to lead off the sixth and later scored on Chad Henry's infield groundout to put the Bulldogs back on top 6-5.

But the Bulldog bullpen failed to hold the lead.

Papelbon replaced Young to start the seventh and after walking the leadoff batter gave up three consecutive hits. Boyd's two-run double to left-center field put Bama on top for the first time in the game.

The Bulldogs threatened in the eighth, scoring a run off relief pitcher Brian Reed when Jon Mungle opened the inning with a pinch-hit single, Brent Lewis walked, and Maniscalco singled to score Mungle. The Bulldogs loaded the bases with one out when Steve Gendron's double play grounder was misplayed by Bama shortstop Adam Pavkovich. But Reed got out of the jam, retiring Matthew Brinson and J.B. Tucker on fly ball outs.

Reed (4-0) struck out three, walked two and gave up three hits in four innings to earn the win. Papelbon took the loss for State, giving up four runs on four hits during his two-inning relief stint.

Peter Stonard and Boyd each went 3-for-4 to pace Alabama's 14-hit attack.

The teams conclude their three-game weekend series Sunday at 1:30 p.m. Junior lefty Joey Collums (3-5, 3.36) will draw his ninth Sunday start of the season for State while Alabama will counter with Shane Sanders (7-1, 3.09).

MSU 400 101 010 - 7-13-1
ALABAMA 111 020 40x - 9-14-4
WP - Brian Reed (4-0), LP - Jonathan Papelbon (2-4). HR - Scott McClanahan (10). T - 3:13. ATT - 5,779 (paid).

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