Bulldogs rally with two homers in the ninth to down Blazers, 6-5

By Miss. State Athletics

STARKVILLE – Luke Adkins and Connor Powers hit back-to-back ninth inning home runs as Mississippi State rallied past UAB 6-5 in a college baseball game played Tuesday afternoon at Dudy Noble Field.

The Powers’ walk-off gave the Bulldog slugging first baseman his third round tripper of the season. It also gave the Bulldogs their 16th straight win over the Blazers. MSU improved to 4-0, while UAB dropped its season opener.

M-State trailed the entire contest until the bottom of the ninth inning. For the third time in four games, the Bulldogs fell behind when defensive miscues allowed first inning runs. UAB tallied a pair of unearned scores and three total runs in the first inning of play.

“We seem to have better at-bats later in the game,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “Some of that is just because it is early in the year. We still have to play better defense. The balls we are missing are average plays.”

Defensively, MSU has now made 10 errors in four games.

Tuesday night, the Bulldogs fell down 4-0 early and still trailed 5-2 entering the home half of the seventh inning of play. Some early MSU threats were thwarted when UAB turned inning-ending double plays in three of the first four innings.

In the seventh inning, Nick Vickerson started things with a one-out walk. Brent Brownlee reached as a hit batsman. An RBI-single by Adkins scored Vickerson. A pair of walks followed with the second one scoring Brownlee. A strikeout and flyout snuffed that threat with the Bulldogs leaving the bases loaded.

The Bulldogs managed only a lone single in the eighth inning before UAB reliever Nick Graffeo was touched for the no-doubt home run shots to right field by both Adkins and Powers – each on 1-1 counts.

“Offensively, we are still pounding the ball,” Cohen said. “Early in the game, we hit the ball extremely hard right at some people and wound up in some double plays.”

M-State finished with 10 hits – its fourth straight game with double-figure hits. Adkins had three hits, while Powers also had multiple hits. UAB finished with six hits. Digger Towe was the lone multiple hitter for the Blazers. Towe had an RBI-single in the first inning and a solo home run in the fifth inning.

Devin Jones pitched the final inning to earn the victory. Luke Bole started and lasted just two innings, allowing four hits and four runs (two earned). Chad Girodo threw four strong innings of middle relief. Kendall Graveman and Ben Bracewell each threw an inning, making way for Jones.

The Blazers threw five pitchers with starter Shay Crawford working only the first inning. Graffeo (0-1) only threw six pitches in taking the loss.

MSU resumes its season-opening 13-game homestand this weekend when Southeastern Louisiana comes to town. Game times are 4 p.m. Friday, 1 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday.