MSU Swept by Crimson Tide

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - An eight-run first inning burst by Alabama powered the No. 4 Crimson Tide to an 11-4 win Sunday afternoon at Sewell-Thomas Field and a sweep of the three-game series with Mississippi State. With the win Alabama (43-9, 20-7) clinched the SEC Western Division title while MSU (28-22-1, 11-15) dropped its seventh straight league game and slipped to ninth place in the SEC overall standings.

Control problems plagued Bulldog starter Joey Collums (3-6), who managed but one out in the six batters he faced. The junior lefty walked three, hit a batter, threw a run-scoring wild pitch, and gave up one hit, a two-run single by catcher Jeremy Brown. Jacob Blakeney replaced Collums, and after loading the bases with a walk, gave up a bases-loaded pop fly home run at the right field corner that gave Alabama an 7-0 lead. Scott McClanahan closed out the scoring two batters later with a solo shot over the Sewell-Thomas scoreboard.

Alabama starter Shane Sanders (8-1) faced one batter over the minimum through five innings before the Bulldogs broke through with three unearned runs in the sixth. J.B. Tucker reached on an error at shortstop, Matthew Maniscalco and Chad Henry followed with singles and Matthew Brinson drew a bases-loaded walk to score a run. Another run scored on an infield groundout by Steve Gendron and Brent Lewis plated the final run in the inning with a single to right before Casey Long was retired on an inning-ending pop fly with the bases loaded.

State got consecutive pinch-hit singles by Winston Pearson, Michael Brown and Lee Parks to open the ninth and scored a run on a groundout to third base by Maniscalco. Relief pitcher Taylor Tankersley struck out Enrico Jones and Brinson grounded out to second to end the game.

Maniscalco and Lewis had two hits each to pace MSU's game-leading 11-hit attack, with eight of those coming against Sanders. Sanders gave up all four Bulldog runs, walked two and struck out four.

Blakeney worked 4-2/3 innings, giving up four runs on five hits. Steven Dowe, Brian Owens and Robby Goodson followed Blakeney with one-inning pitching stints.

Redding drove in five of Alabama's runs with his grand slam and an infield groundout, while Brown finished the day with two hits and three RBI.

The Bulldogs close out non-conference competition with a pair of midweek games in Birmingham. State visits UAB Tuesday (7 p.m.) and Samford Wednesday (6 p.m.) before hosting instate SEC rival Mississippi 35-16, 14-13) in an three-game series at Dudy Noble Field.

MSU 000 003 001 - 4-11-0
ALABAMA 801 001 10x - 11-9-1
WP - Shane Sanders (8-1). LP - Joey Collums (3-6). HR - Grant Redding (2), Scott McClanahan (11). T - 2:43. ATT - 5666 (paid).

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