College baseball: Alabama splits doubleheader with No. 3 Mississippi State
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Alabama baseball split its doubleheader with No. 3 Mississippi State on Saturday at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The Bulldogs claimed the series win with the victory in game two of the day, while the Crimson Tide moves to 25-20 overall and 10-11 in SEC play after the twinbill.
Alabama took Game 1 in walkoff fashion, 4-3, to claim the first game of the day in extra innings. The Tide used a season-high 10 walks, including four in the ninth inning, before Chance Vincent's walkoff single clinched the win. In Game 2 an error brought in two early runs for the Bulldogs, which would prove to be the difference by night's end.
With the bases loaded, a single back up the middle from Vincent capped off Alabama baseball's 4-3, comeback win over third-ranked Mississippi State. The Crimson Tide used four walks in the ninth to load the bases and tie the game at 3-3, before Vincent lined a single back up the middle to bring home Georgie Salem for the win.
The teams each scored two in the fourth, before going scoreless until the ninth. The Bulldogs scored one in the top half of the inning on a sacrifice fly. The Tide then began walking in the home half, drawing four total as part of a season-high 10 free passes.
Vincent led Alabama with two hits as eight of nine batters reached base in the game. Matt Foster (5-3) entered the game in the seventh and allowed just one run on his way to his fifth win of the season. Mississippi State used nine pitchers, with Ryan Cyr (1-1) taking the loss.
Crimson Tide starter Jake Walters threw 6.1 innings striking out six to record his eighth game of the season in which he punched out five or more batters. Walters allowed two earned runs, matching his total from his last four starts combined, and continued his streak of allowing two earned runs or fewer in all but one start this season.
Mississippi State started the day's scoring, plating a pair of runs in the top of the fourth. A leadoff single and then a one-out single put two on for the Bulldogs. The very next batter tripled to right field, scoring both to give State the 2-0 lead.
Alabama answered back in the bottom of the fourth with two of its own. Chandler Taylor and Vincent started the frame with back-to-back singles, and then advanced into scoring position on a balk from the Bulldog pitcher. Keith Holcombe grounded out to the right side for the second out, but the grounder scored Taylor to make it 2-1. Will Haynie came up and fell behind 2-2, before the Bulldogs called on their bullpen. Haynie fouled off the first pitch he saw from the new reliever before sending a shot to center off the top of the wall to score the Tide's second run and even things up after four full.
The two teams went scoreless for the remainder of regulation in a game scheduled for seven innings, sending the game into extras. In the top of the ninth, Mississippi State scored the go-ahead run, using a leadoff walk, an error and then a sacrifice fly to right to take the 3-2 advantage.
In the home half of the ninth, Alabama reached the leadoff man, with Daniel Cucjen drawing a four-pitch walk to give the Tide a baserunner. One out later, Salem drew another four-pitch walk to put two on before Cobie Vance followed with a third straight walk. State made a pitching change, with the new arm walking Taylor on four straight pitches to bring across the tying run. One batter later, Vincent sent a chopper into center with the infield in to give the Tide the walkoff win.
An error in the second inning proved the difference, as Mississippi State used the Crimson Tide's mistake to score two for the eventual 2-1 win in the day's second game.
Alabama starter Nick Eicholtz (3-2) suffered the loss despite working 6.0 innings of four-hit baseball and allowing two unearned runs with a walk. He struck out a season-high tying five batters. The junior shined, scattering hits early on and tightening up as the game wore on to retire nine of the final 10 batters he faced.
Mississippi State began the scoring in game two with a pair of unearned runs in the second. A flyout that resulted in a two-base error followed by a wild pitch put a Bulldog on third, before State delivered a single to center to plate the game's first run. One out later, another single to center brought one more across and made it 2-0.
The Crimson Tide went scoreless until the sixth, but ran the Bulldog starter off with a pair of singles. Salem led off the inning, waiting back on the pitch to send a single to center. Two outs later, Vincent sent a single to center to score the Alabama's first run of the nightcap and end State's starter's outing, making it 2-1. Two were stranded in the frame, and the Tide went down in order in the seventh as MSU claimed the series win.