HOOVER, Ala. -- Mississippi State right-hander Zac Houston shut down No. 9 seed Alabama to lift the top-seeded Bulldogs to a 4-1 victory in the double elimination round of the SEC Baseball Tournament.
Houston pitched 8.2 innings, not giving up a run until the top of the ninth. The junior allowed four hits in his longest game yet, as he had only pitched more than five innings twice in his previous 41 career appearances. Blake Smith came in from the bullpen to strike out the final batter and secure Mississippi State's win.
"I thought Zac was just magnificent," said Mississippi State head coach John Cohen. "The ball just came out of his hands very well tonight. It seemed like he was on point with three different pitches. I couldn't be more proud."
The Mississippi State offense backed up Houston's performance. SEC Freshman of the Year Jake Mangum hit a leadoff single in the first inning, followed by a single from Jack Kruger. Gavin Collins brought home Mangum to give the Bulldogs an early 1-0 lead. The Bulldogs extended their lead to 2-0 in the third inning when Mangum delivered a run on a groundout.
The Bulldogs continued to pull away when Collins hit a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth. Brent Rooker added to the Bulldogs' lead with an RBI single in the sixth.
Alabama looked like it was going to get on the board with an eighth-inning home run from Chance Vincent, but Mississippi State's Reid Humphreys robbed the Tide of a run with a catch at the left-field wall.
The Crimson Tide broke up Houston's shutout in the final frame on an RBI double by Chandler Taylor.
MSU's Gavin Collins tied a career high with a 4-for-4 performance. His last four-hit game was also in the SEC Tournament.
"We have such a variety of different talent in our lineup," said Collins. "When you have the combination that we have, it can be hard to defend all of the time."
With the win, Mississippi State snapped a six-game losing streak to Alabama in the SEC Tournament. The Bulldogs last beat the Crimson Tide in the tourney in 1991.
The Bulldogs won their 11th SEC regular season championship this season and were presented with the trophy before the start of today's game.
UP NEXT: The Bulldogs face the winner of tonight's matchup between No. 5 seed LSU and No. 4 seed Florida on Thursday in the second game of the night session. The Crimson Tide will play in an elimination game against the loser of the Tigers-Gators matchup in the second game of Thursday's morning session.