FINAL: Alabama 8, MSU 7 (Game 3)

Recapping MSU’s 8-7 loss to Alabama at Sewell-Thomas Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The buzz: MSU (29-18, 12-12 SEC) rallied and was poised for a sweep, but the Crimson Tide (18-30, 7-17) used a two-run, two-out rally to pull out the victory. It was a contentious ending, and the bad feelings spilled over into the MSU dugout afterwards when pitching coach Butch Thompson engaged in a shouting match with a security or police officer (couldn’t tell which).

Big inning: Reliever Nick Routt started the ninth and retired the first two hitters, but then he gave up singles to Jared Reaves and Ben Moore. That brought righty Taylor Stark to the mound, and Austen Smith delivered a double to the wall in left field, over the head of Kendall Graveman … yes, MSU used a lot of late subs. Graveman had no real chance at the ball, though. On the pitch before his game-winner, Smith fouled it at the plate, but the MSU dugout thought the ball hit the plate. After a throw down to first base – it would’ve been the game’s final out – the umps ruled it had hit in the batter’s box and was thus foul.

Key stats: MSU committed two errors, leading to five unearned runs for Alabama. … MSU stranded eight base runners, Bama stranded six. … Alabama was retired in order four times.

MSU at the plate: The Bulldogs had 11 hits. … Trey Porter was 4 of 5 with a run scored. … Phillip Casey was 2 of 2 with three RBIs off the bench, and his two-run single in the ninth gave State a 7-6 lead. … MSU scored three times in the eighth on the strength of four hits, with Sam Frost‘s sac fly narrowing the deficit to 6-5.

Alabama at the plate: The Tide had nine hits. … Taylor Dugas was 2 of 3 with four RBIs from the leadoff spot. His three-run triple with two outs in the fourth off Chad Girodo gave Alabama a 4-1 lead. … Reaves and Smith had two hits apiece.

MSU on the mound: Starter Luis Pollorena only lasted 2 2/3 innings, allowing one run on two hits with two strikeouts and a walk. … Brandon Woodruff was charged with three runs on no hits in 1.0 inning (it was his men on base when Dugas hit the triple off Girodo, who was charged with one run on one hit). … Caleb Reed recorded one out, then Routt (2-5) tossed 4 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on four hits with two strikeouts and no walks. … Stark faced just the one batter, giving up Smith’s double.

Alabama on the mound: Junior Charley Sullivan, an Oxford native, tossed seven strong innings. He allowed two runs on five hits, struck out five and walked none on 105 pitches. … Trey Pilkington faced five batters and got one out, charged with three runs on three hits. … Jake Hubbard (3-2) threw 1 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on three hits with a strikeout and a walk.

Bottom line: A sweep would’ve been very sweet for State, but instead it goes home with a bittersweet taste in its mouth. Still, it’s in good position in the SEC West with two very tough series remaining: at Florida, versus Kentucky.

Quotable: “There are things you can control in this game, and there are things that you can’t, and in terms of the things we can control, I thought our kids did a great job of fighting their tails off. We ain’t backing down to anybody.” – MSU coach John Cohen, when asked about the controversial foul ball call

Videos: For Cohen, CLICK HERE; for Porter, CLICK HERE; for Casey, CLICK HERE.

Click video to hear audio