STARKVILLE, Miss. - Alabama needed just five innings to defeat Mississippi State Friday night on the road, scoring 11 runs in the 11-3 run-rule victory over the Bulldogs at Nusz Park to remain undefeated in SEC play.
Alabama (27-2, 4-0 SEC) scored in four of the five innings it came to the plate, including a big five-run fifth that gave the Crimson Tide enough cushion to earn the run-rule victory over Mississippi State (21-6, 1-3 SEC), holding off a late rally by the Bulldogs in the bottom half of the inning. Marisa Runyon was 3-3 in the win with two RBIs while Peyton Grantham drove in a team-leading three RBIs on a first-inning home run, her third long ball of the year. Reagan Dykes and Merris Schroder each earned a hit and scored two runs apiece.
Alexis Osorio (15-1) earned the win in the circle but saw her school-record scoreless innings streak end at 40 innings after a third-inning home run. She threw 4.1 innings in the win while Sydney Littlejohn and Madi Moore each saw time in the fifth inning, teaming up to avoid a late rally by the Bulldogs.
Alabama wasted no time getting on base in the top of the first, as Demi Turner was hit by the very first pitch of the game. A groundout moved her to second and wild pitch sent her to third before a walk to Bailey Hemphill put runners at the corners. Grantham then squared up on the third pitch of her at-bat with a line-drive home run over the fence in center, plating three to give Alabama an early 3-0 lead before a flyout and a groundout ended the half-inning.
In the top of the second, Runyon bounced the first pitch of the inning off the wall in right-center for a standup triple before Dykes pulled a hard-hit single through the left side to score Runyon from third and stretch the lead to 4-0. Later with two in scoring position, Chandler Dare hit a slow chopper to second base, earning the RBI on the groundout to make it 5-0.
After reaching on a bunt single and stealing second base in the top of the third, Schroder came home on an RBI single by Runyon that bounced just out of reach of the diving MSU infielder, swelling the lead to 6-0. In the bottom of the third, a one-out fielding error put a Bulldog runner on base before shortstop Reggie Harrison blasted a home run down the left-field line, cutting the Tide's lead to 6-2.
With two on and one out in the top of the fifth, Runyon dropped down a double that just stayed fair down the right-field line, scoring one to make it 7-2 with two now in scoring position. A walk to Dykes loaded the bases and pinch-hitter Gabby Callaway was hit by a pitch to bring a run home and make it 8-2. A costly fielding error by Mississippi State on what would have been the final out of the half-inning allowed three more runs to score, stretching Alabama's lead to 11-2 before a popup ended the inning.
Needing at least two runs to avoid the run-rule loss in the bottom of the fifth, three-straight walks loaded the bases for Mississippi State to start the frame. A force out put one out on the board but a runner came home on the fielder's choice to make it an eight-run game, 11-3. Alabama then turned to Littlejohn to pitch in relief, who fired a grounder back home to tag out the lead runner trying to score for out number two. With a left-handed pinch-hitter at the plate for the Bulldogs, Alabama played the matchup as fellow lefty Moore entered to pitch. A walk would load the bases and Littlejohn would re-enter the circle and strike out the final batter on a full count to preserve the eight-run lead and give Alabama the run-rule victory, 11-3.
Alabama and Mississippi State continue the three-game series on Saturday, March 18 with first pitch set for 6 p.m. CT at Nusz Park in Starkville, Miss.