Austen Smith delivered a two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the ninth inning to propel Alabama to an 8-7 Southeastern Conference win over Mississippi State on Sunday afternoon from Sewell-Thomas Stadium. With the win, the Crimson Tide is now 18-30 overall and 7-17 in SEC play. The Bulldogs fall to 29-18 and 12-12 in conference play.
With Alabama leading 6-2 heading into the eighth inning, Mississippi State scored five runs over the last two innings to take a 7-6 lead. MSU took the lead for the first time in the game in the top of the ninth inning when Phillip Casey delivered a two-out, two RBI single to right center off Alabama reliever Jake Hubbard.
In the bottom of the ninth, MSU reliever Nick Routt retired the first two batters, before allowing back-to-back singles to Jared Reaves and Ben Moore. After reliever Taylor Stark entered with two runners aboard, Smith hit a 2-1 fastball off the left center field wall to plate both runners for the dramatic walk-off victory. Smith also delivered a ninth inning, walk-off home run against Vanderbilt on April 21.
“There’s a lot to be said for this group the way things have been this year,” Alabama head coach Gaspard said. “After losing the lead, it was great to see how they responded there in the bottom of the ninth.”
Although he gave up two runs in the ninth inning for his second blown save of the season, Hubbard earned the win to improve to 3-2 on the year. Routt (2-5) took the loss after throwing 4.2 innings, allowing three runs on four hits with two strikeouts.
Alabama starting pitcher Charley Sullivan did not factor into the decision after giving up two runs (one earned) on five hits with a career-high tying five strikeouts in seven innings.
“I thought that Charley Sullivan did a super job today going seven innings, “ said Head Coach Mitch Gaspard. “We had a rough eighth and ninth inning there in the bullpen when they took the lead.”
Taylor Dugas was 2-for-3 with a sacrifice bunt, was hit by a pitch and a career-high four RBI in the game. Dugas delivered a bases loaded triple in the fourth inning, and then had an RBI on a sac bunt with runners on the corners in the sixth. Junior outfielder Andrew Miller also went 2-for-3 with a walk, an RBI and two runs scored and Reaves finished the day with two hits in four at-bats with a RBI. Smith’s ninth inning double was his only hit of the day in five trips to the plate.
MSU’s Trey Porter was 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles, while Casey, who entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning, was 2-for-2 with three RBI.
Alabama kick started the scoring in the second inning when Miller brought home Brett Booth with a two-out RBI single. The Tide held the score at 1-0 until the top of the third inning, when MSU tied the score a 1-1 on a ground out by Adam Frazier to score Brent Brownlee across the plate.
The Tide and the Bulldogs were locked in a 1-1 tie until Dugas hit a three-RBI triple with bases loaded, plating Miller, Kenny Roberts, and James Tullidge in the bottom of the fourth inning. Dugas reached home soon after on a single to center field by Reaves for a 5-1 UA advantage.
The Bulldogs collected another run in the top of the fifth inning as Sam Frost crossed the plate with two outs on the board, but Alabama regained their four-run lead in the bottom of the sixth when Miller scored on a sacrifice bunt by Dugas.
The score held steady at 6-2 until the top of the eighth, when MSU closed the gap to 6-5 thanks to RBI singles by Casey and Daryl Norris and a sacrifice fly by Sam Frost. The Bulldogs took the lead in the ninth thanks to a single by Casey that drove in two.
Alabama returns to action on Friday, May 11, with game one of a three-game series at No. 6 Kentucky. First pitch of the series opener is slated for 6 p.m. CT from Cliff Hagan Stadium. The game is scheduled to be televised on CSS with Matt Stewart and Rusty Ensor calling the game.
Courtesy UA Media Relations