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'Bama Spoils MSU Comeback Effort With Walk-Off Win In Ninth

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Trey Porter was 4-for-5 with two doubles for the Bulldogs.
Photo Courtesy of Bill Simmonds

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - A late-inning rally gave Mississippi State the lead but the Bulldogs could not hold it.

Battling back from a four-run deficit, the Bulldogs dropped a heart-breaking walk-off 8-7 decision to Alabama in the final game of a weekend Southeastern Conference series at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

The Bulldogs almost had the game-winner when Austen Smith sent a dribbler back to Taylor Stark on the mound. Stark threw to first for the potential out. The umpires huddled and ruled a foul ball since the ball hit the plate. Given new life, Smith ripped a game-winning two-run double to the outfield wall two pitches later.

"When you go on the road you have to overcome a lot of things in the Southeastern Conference," MSU head coach John Cohen said. "I thought our kids did a great job of competing and overcoming those things. The surface plays different. Things are different. There are things you can control in this game and things that you can't.

"I thought our kids did a great job of competing and fighting their tails off and controlling the things that they can control."

MSU won its first series at Alabama since the 2004 season. The Bulldogs are now 29-18 overall and 12-12 in league play, while the Crimson Tide is 18-30 and 7-17. MSU had taken 3-1 and 3-2 victories prior to Sunday's contest.

Down 6-2 in the series finale, the Bulldogs struck for three runs in the eighth inning.

Mitch Slauter drew a leadoff walk and Trey Porter punched a single through the infield. Pinch-hitter Phillip Casey followed with an RBI-single. After a strikeout, Brent Brownlee and Daryl Norris followed with back-to-back hits. A sacrifice-fly by Sam Frost brought the Bulldogs within a run.

In the ninth inning, the Maroon and White saw the door open when Matthew Britton drew a walk on a full-count pitch. Porter followed with a ground-rule double down the right field line. Casey followed with a two-run single. A double play ball got UA out of the inning but the Bulldogs had grabbed the lead.

In the home half of the inning, Nick Routt got the first two outs before Reaves and Moore followed with back-to-back singles. In relief, Taylor Stark was touched for Smith's game-winner.

"We are not going to back down from anybody," Cohen said. "No matter the situation, we are not going to back down from anybody. We used almost everybody on our roster. We should have won a ballgame today. I am pleased with the things that we did as a team that were in our control."

Alabama built a 5-1 lead with four runs in the fourth inning. A bases-clearing double by Taylor Dugas was the big blow in the inning.

For the contest, the Bulldogs finished with 11 hits. Porter had four hits, while Casey entered late in the contest and had two singles and three RBIs.

Alabama finished with nine hits. Dugas had two hits and four RBIs. Jared Reaves and Andrew Miller each added multiple hits.

Starting pitcher Charley Sullivan worked the first seven innings. Sullivan allowed five hits and two runs (one earned), with five strikeouts. Trey Pilkington was touched for three hits while getting only one out in the eighth inning. Jake Hubbard (3-2) completed the contest and got the win.

Routt (2-5) worked 4.2 innings, allowing four hits and three runs (all earned), while taking the loss. Luis Pollorena started and was lifted in the third inning. Brandon Woodruff allowed three unearned runs, as an error preceded Dugas' big hit. Chad Girodo was touched for that hit. Caleb Reed, Routt and Stark then followed to the mound for the Bulldogs.

"Today was disappointing but we will more forward," Cohen said. "We will come out work hard and prepare for Mississippi Valley State."

The Bulldogs and Delta Devils play a 4 p.m. doubleheader Tuesday at Dudy Noble Field. Each game is schedule to be seven innings in length.



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