MSU Takes Series With 3-2 Saturday Win At Alabama

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Evan Mitchell picked up the win in relief on the mound.
Photo Courtesy of Bill Simmonds

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.



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