Collective effort earns Bulldogs win over Alabama
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - All nine starters collected a hit for the No. 3 Mississippi State baseball program in a 7-3 victory at Alabama on Saturday (May 22) afternoon to wrap up the regular season at Sewell-Thomas Stadium with a series sweep.
The victory locked up a bye into the double-elimination portion of the SEC Tournament, which begins Tuesday (May 24) in Hoover, Alabama. Mississippi State will be the No. 3 seed and play in the first game on day two of the event at the Hoover Met on Wednesday, May 25. First pitch with the winner of Florida/Kentucky is slated for 9:30 a.m.
It was the 20th win in Southeastern Conference play for Mississippi State in 2021, to mark the first time in program history that MSU has posted back-to-back 20-win SEC seasons. It is just the fourth time in program history that Mississippi State has reached the 20-win mark in conference play, with a school-record 21 victories in 2016 and 20 wins on three occasions (1989,2019, 2021). The 40 overall wins are the 23rd time in program history MSU has won at least 40 games.
Also, State swept its fourth SEC series of the season to mark the second-most series sweeps in a single season in program history. The 1989 team swept five series and nine Diamond Dawg teams have swept three series.
Alabama (29-22, 12-17 SEC) opened the scoring with two in the first inning and one in the second inning, before Mississippi State (40-13, 20-10 SEC) piled up four runs in the fifth and three in the sixth to take control of the contest.
The Crimson Tide scored three runs on two hits and benefited from three walks against MSU starting pitcher Jackson Fristoe. In the third inning, Houston Harding entered and allowed a leadoff single, but retired 15 batters in a row from the third to the eighth inning to allow State to rally.
Harding threw 5 2/3 innings scoreless and allowed just two hits with two walks. He got 10 ground ball outs - including one double play - and six fly ball outs. Preston Johnson retired the only batter he faced to strand two runners in the eighth inning. Landon Sims worked a scoreless ninth inning to close out the win.
At the plate, three Diamond Dawgs posted multi-hit games and Rowdey Jordan drove in a pair of runs for his ninth multi-RBI game of the season. Jordan moved his reached base streak to 38 games and his hitting streak to 12 games with a single, hit-by-pitch and a run scored to go with his two RBIs. Tanner Allen posted his 25th multi-hit game of the season with 16 of those coming in SEC play. Luke Hancock and Scotty Dubrule each chipped in two hits and Tanner Leggett and Lane Forsythe both scored two runs.
For Alabama, Landon Green (3-1) was the tough-luck loser with one unearned run allowed in. one-third of an inning of work. Zane Denton drove in two RBIs and William Hamiter chipped in a pair of hits and scored one run.
Head coach Chris Lemonis
On performance against Alabama over the weekend
CL: I loved how we played all weekend. I thought that we had the same effort each game. We had a slow start today, but [Houston Harding] was really good. He was probably as efficient of a pitcher that we have had all year. We did not get the strikeouts that we are used to, but we had some quick and easy innings. He was sharp.
On the regular season
CL: We have been one of the top teams in the country all year. I do not know if we have fallen out of the top eight all year besides maybe number 10 this week after stubbing our toe last weekend. It is what we have done in the league playing in the toughest conference in the country. We put it on the line going out of our league and played a lot better than a lot of people. Our first weekend out we played the Big 12 schools and had success. Then we had Southern Miss and Louisiana-Lafayette in the midweek. We had Kent State and Tulane at home in weekend series early. A lot of people do not spend as much time pushing themselves outside [their conference] like we did.
Peyton Wilson led off the inning with a walk followed by a William Hamiter single. A wild pitch advanced Hamiter to second before a Zane Denton single through the right side pushed two runs across.
Alabama 2, Mississippi State 0
Bryce Eblin and Jim Jarvis both reached via walk to begin the inning. A sacrifice bunt by Caden Rose advanced the runners into scoring position and a Peyton Wilson ground ball scored a run.
Alabama 3, Mississippi State 0
Scotty Dubrule lined a single into left to begin the inning. Kellum Clark singled through shortstop and advanced on the throw to put runners on second and third with no outs. Lane Forsyth singled into the left field gap to score Dubrule from third. A Tanner Allen ground out scored the second run of the inning. A Logan Tanner walk loaded the bases, and a Luke Hancock walk scored the third run of the inning. Kamren James reached on an error to push across the fourth and give MSU the lead.
Mississippi State 4, Alabama 3
Kellum Clark reached on an error to begin the inning. After a Tanner Leggett bunt single, Lane Forsythe laid down a sacrifice bunt that was thrown away and scored Clark. Rowdey Jordan singled into right field to bring two more runs across and account for the final margin.
Mississippi State 7, Alabama 3
Mississippi State will take the No. 3 seed into the SEC Tournament and play at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, May 26 against the winner of the Kentucky/Florida game. The winner of that game will play at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, while the loser will again play at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday.