The Alabama Crimson Tide baseball team lost a winnable series this weekend to the Mississippi State Bulldogs. MSU won 12-8 on Thursday, the Tide took game two in run rule fashion by a score of 11-1, before the Bulldogs took the rubber game on Saturday 8-4. Bama fell to 23-10 overall all and 4-8 in the league. Mississippi State improved to 19-14 and 3-9 in the SEC. After having series against the 2nd, 3rd, and 10th ranked teams in the nation the Tide needed to make hay against their visitors from down Highway 82. The Dogs have struggled mightily since winning the College World Series in 2021.
Game One: Lost 12-8
With regular game one starter Ben Hess out with an injury the Tide turned to last years ace- Garrett McMillian on the mound. McMillian made his first appearance of the year last week in Arkansas after suffering an injury of his own in the preseason. McMillian was on a pitch count and Bama knew he wouldn't go deep into the game. Mississippi State had starter Cade Smith come back from an injury in the game as well.
McMillian ran into trouble early with a lead off single and a walk to the first two batters of the game. A wild pitch moved those two runners to second and third, and after a strikeout for out one a sacrifice fly plated the first run. Slate Alford dribbled a two out infield single to score run number two in the inning. McMillian was replaced by Hagan Banks to start the second inning,
Banks allowed a one out home run to catcher Ross Highfill in the second to put the Tide behind 3-0. Alabama closed the gap in the bottom of the second after William Hamiter and Andrew Pinckney opened the inning with being hit by pitches. After a strikeout for out one, Mac Guscette bounced into a fielders choice for out two. Tommy Seidl singled in Pinckney to cut the lead to 3-1.
Bama used back to back two out home runs from Jim Jarvis and Hamiter to tie the game in the bottom of the third. In the fourth the Tide took the lead when Ed Johnson drove in Mac Guscette for a 4-3 lead. Bama left the bases loaded in the inning, unable to add any more much needed runs. Banks held things there until the top of the 5th. After giving up a lead off double to Colton Ledbetter and getting a ground out for the first out Banks was replaced by Zane Probst. A walk and a fielders choice ground out plated the tying run for the Bulldogs.
Probst held things at a tie, pitching through the sixth inning. Conner Ball replace Propst to being the seventh. A one out home run from Hunter Hines gave the Dogs the lead, and things fell apart from there. Dakota Jordan doubled and after a strikeout for out one, Ball was replaced by Braylon Myers. Alford greeted Myers with a long two run home run, and after a walk and single Highfill hit his second long ball of the game to top off a six run explosion in the frame.
The Tide got one run in the bottom of the seventh on a double play ground out. Myers was back out for the eighth and gave up a one out double before being replaced by Brayden Gainey. Gainey allowed a two out single to score another run, then got a fly out to end the inning. The Dogs scored one in the 9th to make the score 12-5 headed to the bottom of the ninth.
Bama mounted a rally of sorts after two quick outs in the bottom of the ninth. Johnson singled, Jarvis walked, and Hamiter blasted a two run double to cut the lead to 12-7. Pinckney reached, and Hamiter scored, on an error by Alford at third base. A weak ground out ended the threat and the Tide was on the short end of a 12-8 score.
Alabama hit 8-34 in the game with six walks, three hit batters, 12 strikeouts, and left eight men on base, while hitting in two double plays. Johnson finished 3-5 with a run scored and one driven in. Hamiter hit 2-4 with a double, home run, two runs, and three driven in. Jarvis scored twice during his 1-3 game with two walks and his fifth home run of the season. Ball was the losing pitcher, falling to 1-1. MSU hit 14-40 with seven walks, seven strikeouts, and left nine men on base. Colby Holcombe was the winner and improved to 2-1 on the season.
Game Two: Won 11-1, run rule in 7 innings
Sophomore right hander Luke Holman started on the mound for the Tide and gave the team an excellent start. The Bulldogs countered with switch pitching Jurrangelo Cijntje, a freshman. Cijntje reportedly has had some left arm soreness, so he threw only right handed in the game.
The Tide used a big second inning to put the game out of reach, scoring five times on only two hits. Bryce Eblin walked with one out and MSU coach Chris Lemonis had the grounds crew rebuild the mound for some reason. After the manicuring was done Andrew Pinckney grounded out, advancing Eblin to second, followed by a walk to Will Hodo. Drew Williamson hit a line drive single to score two runs and on the next pitch Ed Johnson crushed his fourth home run of the season, bringing in three more runs.
A walk, double, and RBI ground out put the Bulldogs on the board in the top of the fifth, for the only run they would score in the game. In the bottom of the fifth the Tide piled on three more runs on a two run home run by Dominic Tamez and an RBI single by Williamson. Holman recorded the first two outs in the sixth before being replaced by Riley Quick. Quick struck out Slate Alford to end the inning. Tamez struck again in the bottom of the sixth with another two run bomb to left field.
Quick walked the first two batters he faced in the top of the seventh before being replaced by Alton Davis II. Davis used his 96 mph fast ball to strike out two batters and induce a fly out. With a 10-1 lead the Tide just needed to score once in the bottom half to end the game. Seidl walked and moved up on the third walk of the game to Hodo. Williamson lined out to shortstop for out one. Will Porter, batting in Johnson’s spot, lined a single to right to score Seidl and give Bama the 11-1 victory.
Bama hit 8-26 in the game with 12 walks, two hit batters, struck out eight times, and left nine men on base. Holman pitched 5.2 innings, allowing three hits with two walks, four strikeouts, and one run allowed in improving to 5-1 with the victory. Williamson, Johnson, and Tamez combined for six hits, 10 RBI, and four home runs. Williamson was 2-4 with a walk and three RBI. Johnson was 2-4 with three driven in, and Tamez drove in four with his two home runs in four at bats. Eblin and Hodo both walked three times and scored a run.
Bama pitching held State to 3-23 at the plate with four walks, a hit batters, seven strikeouts, and seven men left on base. With the win the Tide headed to Saturday’s game three looking to grab their first SEC series win of the season.
Game Three: Lost 8-4
Alabama left hander Grayson Hitt drew the start to try and win the series on Saturday. A lead off walk to Amani Larry and one out home run by Hunter Hines in the top of the first put the Tide in an early hole. The Tide was able to tie the score in the bottom of the first without the aid of a single hit. MSU starter Landon Hartman walked two batters, and his defense let him down with two errors and a wild pitch of his own allowed Bama to score twice.
State used two singles and a passed ball to retake the lead in the top of the third. Hitt held the Dogs scoreless in the fourth and the fifth, setting the table for Bama to take the lead in the bottom half of the fifth. Jim Jarvis led off the inning with a single and stole second base. With one out Drew Williamson lifted his 10th home run of the season into the right field plaza for a 4-3 Alabama lead. The Tide stranded two runners on base with a chance to take a commanding lead.
Hitt pitched a perfect sixth before being replaced by Aidan Moza to begin the seventh inning. Bulldog catcher Ross Highfill smoked a one out home run to dead centerfield to tie the game at 4-4. Moza allowed a single to Larry, who advanced to second on another passed ball. Kade Woods replaced Moza and walked the first batter he faced, then gave up an RBI double to Dakota Jordan.
Woods had more trouble in the eighth. Following a lead off walk Kellum Clark hit a long home run over the right field wall. After a one out walk Hunter Furtado replaced Woods on the mound. Furtado allowed a run in the ninth when Jordan had a one out double, advanced on a ground out, and scored on another passed ball. The final four innings the Tide had three singles, but no other base runner and never threatened to score again. The Bulldogs took the game 8-4 and the series two games to one.
Bama hit 9-34 with three walks, seven strikeouts, nine men left on base, while having three wild pitches and four passed balls. Jarvis was 2-5 with two runs scored, Williamson 2-5 with two driven in on his home run, and Andrew Pinckney had a double and single as part of his 2-4 game. State hit 9-35, had seven walks, struck out 11 times, and left seven on base. Moza was the loser and fell to 0-1, Nate Dohm pitched the final four innings for the Dogs and moved to 4-3 on the season.
In the series the Tide hit .257 with 25 hits in 97 at bats. Bama drew 21 walks, had four hit batters, struck out 26 times, stole two bases, made one error and left 26 men on base. Alabama’s bullpen pitched 12.1 innings in the series and allowed 17 hits, 15 earned run, walked 10 batters, and had an ERA of 10.95 and a WHIP (walk and hits per inning pitched) of 2.19. MSU didn't hit much better average wise with 26-98 for a .265 mark, had 18 walks, 25 strikeouts, and left 23 men on base. The difference in the series was the seven home runs slammed by the Bulldogs the produced 12 runs, and the inability of the Tide bullpen to shut things down consistently.
This was pretty close to a must win series for the Tide, and they didn't come through. After three weekends against top 10 ten teams, with two of them on the road, facing the 1-8 (in conference) Bulldogs looked to be the spring board for the Bama team. Alabama did a good job to not be swept by Florida, Kentucky, or Arkansas but only one win against the struggling boys from Starkville really is a blow to the Tide. The next two conference foes are Auburn and Missouri, two more teams that are scuffling and Alabama needs to win both of these series.
The Crimson Tide fell to 23-10 overall and 4-8 in the SEC while the Dogs improved to 19-14 and 3-9 in conference
Who Did What?
- Ed Johnson 6-13, 4 RBI, 2 BB, Home run (4), 4 runs
- Tommy Seidl 4-8, 2 runs, 3 BB, RBI
- Drew Williamson 4-13, Home run (10), 5 RBI, 2 BB, 2 runs
- Jim Jarvis 3-11, 3 BB, 3 Runs, Stolen base, Home run (5)
- Luke Holman W (5-1) 5.2 IP, 3 hits, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts, 1 run
- Grayson Hitt No Decision 6 IP, 4 hits, 4 walks, three runs, nine strikeouts (career high)
The long home stand continues with a game with Southern Miss on Tuesday at 6 p.m. before the Auburn Tigers arrive for a Friday-Saturday-Sunday series. Friday and Saturday’s games are scheduled for 6 p.m. and Sunday’s tilt will be at 1 p.m. All four games can be found on the SEC Network Plus.