By From School Reports
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Mississippi State’s baseball team managed just three hits against Alabama on Saturday afternoon, yet walked away with a 3-2 victory to clinch the weekend series.
Five pitchers combined on an eighthitter and stranded nine Alabama runners in the victory, the third in a row for the Bulldogs (29-17, 12-11 SEC).
“It’s not happening for us (offensively) but if you look around the league, it’s just not happening for a lot of people,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “There’s been 43 one-run games in our league already right now. I think we pitch it and defend it well enough to win any game right now.”
Alabama (17-30, 6-17) has out-hit MSU 19-10 in the weekend series yet will have to scramble to avoid the sweep today. Game 3 begins at 1:05 p.m.
“It is tough to win SEC games when you are scoring one and two runs in back-to-back nights,” said Alabama coach Mitch Gaspard, whose team lost 3-1 on Friday. “We have got to find a way to get more runs.”
With the victory, MSU clinched its third straight conference series win and its fourth SEC series of the season. The Bulldogs also clinched a series in Alabama’s stadium for the first time since 2004.
The Bulldogs, who’ve won seven of their last eight league games, remain tied for second place in the SEC Western Division and tied for fifth overall in the league standings.
“Our kids are on a mission and know that our entire season is still in the palm of our hands,” Cohen said. “We kind of determine our own destiny and they want all those goals that we set forth early on to achieve. They still want all of those.”
In his usual Saturday starting role, Kendall Graveman was lifted after allowing six hits and one earned run in 42⁄3 innings of work. Evan Mitchell (2-1) completed the fifth and worked the sixth to earn the win. Ross Mitchell and Caleb Reed combined to work MSU through the seventh inning. Reed allowed an RBI double.
Jonathan Holder faced seven batters in two innings of work to earn his third save of the season and second of the series.
A freshman right-hander, Holder has not allowed a run in 192⁄3 innings of work this season. “That’s taking it to the next level,” Cohen said. “That’s playing the game within the game and when you have kids thinking and playing the game at that level it’s special.”
MSU was able to score three runs despite getting no more than one hit in any of those innings. In the first, Adam Frazier drew a leadoff walk, took second on a fly to left field and scored on an RBI single by Trey Porter. In the third, Sam Frost was hit by a pitch with one out, moved to second on a groundout and scored on a Mitch Slauter RBI double.
The Bulldogs added a crucial insurance run in the seventh. Brent Brownlee began things with a one-out walk, took both second and third on a failed pickoff attempt and scored on an infield hit by Tyler Fullerton.
Alabama finished with eight hits, with Taylor Dugas (2 for 5) becoming the Tide’s all-time career leader in base hits (323) in the loss, after taking part in graduation ceremonies earlier in the day.
Starting pitcher Jon Keller (2- 5) worked seven innings and took the loss. Neither team announced a starting pitcher for today. MSU’s options include junior lefty Luis Pollorena (3-0, 1.46 ERA) and freshman righty Brandon Woodruff (0-1, 3.86).