TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Mississippi State turned another brilliant pitching performance into another series win in Southeastern Conference baseball action Saturday afternoon.
A five-set of Bulldog hurlers held Alabama to eight total hits and made the most of limited run support to post a 3-2 victory at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. With the victory, MSU clinched its third straight conference series win and fourth series win of the season. The Bulldogs also take a series in this stadium for the first time since 2004.
No. 29 MSU improved to 29-17 overall and 12-11 in league play, while Alabama fell to 17-30 and 6-17. The Bulldogs remain tied for second place in the Western Division standings and tied for fifth overall in the league standings.
After collecting seven hits in Friday night's 3-1 win over the Tide, the Bulldogs managed only three hits Saturday. However, in a similar fashion to last Sunday's 4-2 win over Ole Miss (where the Bulldogs managed two total hits), the Maroon and White made the most of its opportunities.
"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."
In the MSU first inning, Adam Frazier drew a leadoff walk. Frazier would then aggressively take second on a fly to left field. The heads-up base running paid off as he scored on an RBI-single by Trey Porter.
The lead grew to 2-0 in the third inning. Sam Frost reached as a one-out hit batsman. Frost took second on a ground out and scored on a Mitch Slauter RBI-double.
After Alabama climbed back within a run, the Bulldogs got a critical insurance score in the seventh inning. Once again, MSU made it a one run one hit inning. Brent Brownlee began things with a one-out walk. Brownlee took both second and third on a failed pickoff attempt and scored on an infield hit by Tyler Fullerton.
On this night that would be enough offense for the MSU pitching grouping of Kendall Graveman, Evan Mitchell, Ross Mitchell, Caleb Reed and Jonathan Holder.
In his usual Saturday starting role, Graveman was lifted after allowing six hits and one earned run in 4.2 innings of work. Evan Mitchell (2-1) completed the fifth and worked the sixth to earn the win. Ross Mitchell and Reed combined to work MSU through the seventh inning. Holder faced seven batters in two innings of work to earn his third save of the season and second of the series.
"I need to talk to the older guys like Caleb (Reed) and (Chris) Stratton because they'll come in after situations they've been in and talk to the freshmen like me and Jacob Lindgren about those things," Holder said. "It's so good to learn from guys like that."
A freshman right-hander, Holder has not allowed a run in 19.2 innings of work this season.
"That's taking it to the next level," Cohen said. "That's not (physically) trying to get knuckles aligned and get on top of a pitch. That's playing the game within the game and when you have kids thinking and playing the game at that level it's special."
Alabama finished with eight hits. Taylor Dugas and Jared Reaves each had multiple hits for the Crimson Tide. Dugas is now the Tide's all-time career leader in base hits with 323. Starting pitcher Jon Keller (2-5) worked seven innings and took the loss.
"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."
The series finale is at 1:05 p.m. Sunday.
Ole Miss 7, LSU 4
OXFORD – Zach Kirksey hit a solo home run in the fourth inning to spark a three-run rally before Auston Bousfield added a two-run home run in the seventh to put the game out of reach as No. 24 Ole Miss (31-17, 11-12 SEC) downed No. 4 LSU (37-11, 15-8 SEC) by a score of 7-4 on Saturday to even the weekend series.
The bullpen was solid for the Rebels as three pitchers combined to hold LSU off the board over the last 5.0 innings of play and give Ole Miss the opportunity to grab the win. Tanner Bailey (2-1) picked up the relief win, working 2.0 innings of two-hit ball with two strikeouts. Chris Ellis then worked an inning before Ole Miss called on Brett Huber to close things out in the eighth.
Huber picked up his eighth save of the season, allowing one hit with a walk and a strikeout in his 2.0 innings of work. He is now tied with Justin Huisman for second all-time in saves at Ole Miss with 24 for his career.
Kurt McCune (2-4) suffered the loss for LSU, allowing a run on three hits with a walk in 1.2 innings of relief work. He entered the game in the fifth and allowed the go-ahead run in the sixth before coming out of the game.
“Today a lot of the headlines will to the offense with 12 hits and 7 runs,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “But, it was big for our pitchers to put up zeros after giving four runs in the fourth. Tanner (Bailey) came in and got a double play and that kept the momentum on our side. We were able to come back, score three and tie it up. The bullpen was great.”
The Rebels scored first on Saturday coming up with a single run in the first inning when Tanner Mathis scored from third on a groundout to short from Alex Yarbrough. Mathis reached on a lead-off single before moving to second on a wild pitch. A sac bunt from Andrew Mistone pushed him to third and set up the score on the Yarbrough ball.
LSU responded in the fourth, plating four runs with a big inning that was sparked by a walk and a hit batter in back-to-back pitches with one out. Tyler Moore then drove in the first run with a single to right center that put men at the corners before a sac bunt from Grant Dozar scored Raph Rhymes from third. Will Allen fielded the ball off the bunt and dove for Rhymes who was sliding in at home, but was unable to make the tag in time as Rhymes crossed the plate for the second run of the inning.
With two outs on the board, a walk of Tyler Hanover put two men on base for the Tigers before JaCoby Jones hit a two-RBI double to center field to give LSU the 4-1 lead.
Ole Miss answered the LSU rally with one of its own in the bottom of the frame, starting things off with a solo shot from Kirksey to cut the lead in half. A walk of Auston Bousfield and a single from Austin Anderson put two men on before back-to-back RBI-singles from Mathis and Mistone would tie the score at four.
A double from Will Jamison and an RBI single from Mathis put Ole Miss on top 5-4 in the sixth inning as the Rebels moved in front for good.
Ole Miss extended the lead in the seventh inning when Bousfield delivered his first career home run, a two-run shot down the left field line that hit the foul pole to give the Rebels the 7-4 lead. Senquez Golson scored on the hit after entering the game to pinch run for Will Allen who reached base with a lead-off walk.
Ole Miss and LSU will play the final game of the series at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday as each team looks to claim the series with a victory.
Tulane 3, Southern Miss 2
NEW ORLEANS - Jeremy Schaffer delivered a two-run, game-winning single in the bottom of the ninth to lift Tulane to a 3-2 Conference USA baseball victory over Southern Miss here Saturday afternoon at Greer Field at Turchin Stadium.
The Golden Eagles (25-21 overall 9-8 C-USA) lost for the third-straight time as closer Bradley Roney got touched for the two runs in the final frame.
Roney (1-1) came in to start the ninth and promptly allowed a single to rightfield by Brandon Boudreaux, who has gone 7-for-9 in the series. Roney then walked the next two batters before Schaffer lifted a 1-1 pitch over Mason Robbins' head in right and the Green Wave captured the series with the victory.
Southern Miss, which collected eight hits in the contest, registered both of their runs in the sixth. With one out, Dillon Day and Michael Sterling each singled. After Ashley Graeter drove home the first run with a single, Isaac Rodriguez drove home the second with an RBI single of his own.
Rodriguez and Sterling each collected two hits to lead the Golden Eagles. Jake Drehoff pitched solidly for the Golden Eagles over 6 1/3 innings allowing a run on three hits and three walks with three strikeouts.
The redshirt freshman lefthander did not get into any trouble until the seventh when he walked Nick Schneeberger to open the frame. After a flyout, Blake Crohan hit one to left-center that Day dove for and almost made a spectacular play, but the ball kicked out of his glove when he hit the ground and Schneeberger came around from first to score the Green Wave's first run.
James McMahon ended the threat for the Golden Eagles in the seventh and then got Tulane (31-16, 9-8) out in the eighth.
Tulane reliever Kyle McKenzie (4-2) threw the final 3 2/3 for the Green Wave scattering three hits and two walks to go along with four strikeouts to earn the victory.
Game three is set for 1 p.m., Sunday.
Community College Baseball Game 2 - Itawamba Community College 12, East Central 6
FULTON – The Itawamba Community College baseball team clinched a spot in the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) State Baseball Tournament with a 12-6 win over East Central Community College on Saturday.
The No. 8 Indians (37-9) jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the bottom of the first inning on a sac fly by Drew Alford and a pair of two-hits from Channing Nanney and Zack Randolph.
The Warrios (25-23) battled back to tie the game 6-6 in the top of the seventh when Kalik May sent a two-run home run over the fence in left, but Chris Hannig answered with a lead-off home run in the bottom half of the inning to give the Indians a one-run edge.
ICC got a second two-out rally to plate five runs in the bottom of the eight when Smithey and Alford reached on back-to-back singles before the Warriors pitching staff pushed across the Indians next five runs on a combination of three walks and three hit batters to give the host team the 12-6 series-clinching victory.
Myles Snyder improved to 2-3 on the year after throwing three scoreless innings in relief of starting pitcher Dylan Earnest.
The Indians took a 1-0 series lead after holding off a late-game rally by the Warriors to pick up an 8-7 Game 1 victory on Friday. Smithey had a pair of singles and Alford added a solo home run to help Ben Hudspeth (9-0) pick up the win and Landon Brister earning the save.
It’s the first MACJC State Baseball Tournament appearance for the North Division Champions in three seasons.
The four-team double elimination tournament begins Thursday, May 10 and will conclude with the championship series Saturday, May 12. The three-day event will be the seventh state championship event ICC has hosted this season.
For more information on the 2012 MACJC State Baseball Tournament and ICC baseball visit the college website at www.iccms.edu.
Read more about these games in Sunday's NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.