The Bulldogs improved to 18-5 in non-conference games for the 2011 campaign, while moving to 26-18 overall. South Alabama fell to 22-22. The Maroon and White knocked off an Alabama rival for the second time in three days, as Tuesday’s win followed an 8-5 victory over Alabama. Ironically, USA will keep its Magnolia State theme with a Wednesday night home tussle against Southern Miss.
The 26th victory marks the most in the John Cohen’s three seasons as MSU coach. It also gives the Bulldogs its highest win total since the 2007 College World Series-participant Bulldogs finished with 38 wins.
MSU actually trailed 9-5 before sending 14 batters to the plate in the 10-run seventh inning. It was MSU’s second biggest inning of the season, trailing only a 13-run first at-bat in a 17-2 win over Lamar earlier this season. The Bulldogs have scored eight or more runs in four different frames this year.
The Bulldogs finished with 17 hits. Nick Vickerson, Jaron Shepherd, Brent Brownlee and Adam Frazier each had three hits apiece. Brownlee had a career-high five RBIs, including a two-run double and two-run triple in the decisive seventh inning. Also for MSU, Jarrod Parks extended his hit streak to 17 games.
“This was a really big win for us,” Brownlee said. “South Alabama is always a team that comes out hitting the ball hard. We knew they would score some runs. However, our pitching settled down and we were able to have the big inning.
“A night like this is good and will give us some confidence going into a really big series this weekend at Tennessee.”
MSU sprinted to a 4-1 advantage with back-to-back two-run innings in the second and third innings. South Alabama answered right back, grabbing a 5-4 lead with four scores in the home half of the third inning.
The Bulldogs evened the game at 5-5 on a sacrifice-fly by Brownlee in the top of the fifth inning. The tie was short-lived as the Jaguars appeared to seize the momentum with four scores in the home half of the sixth inning.
In the MSU seventh inning, Vickerson started things with a leadoff double. Shepherd singled, placing runners on the corners. Brownlee followed with a two-run double to the outfield wall. After an infield error, Wes Thigpen followed with an RBI-single, cutting the deficit to 9-8.
A C.T. Bradford sacrifice bunt moved both runners into scoring position. Cody Freeman reached on a dropped third strike, bringing home the game-tying run. A walk to Parks loaded the bases. Ryan Collins reached on a fielder’s choice which resulted in another error and brought home two scores. A wild pitch plated Parks.
Brownlee’s two-run triple and Adam Frazier’s RBI-single capped the big inning. Frazier drew his first start at shortstop as Jonathan Ogden was given the night off.
Daryl Norris (2-0) worked the final 3.1 innings to earn the win for the Bulldogs. Norris allowed two hits and no runs, with three strikeouts and a walk. For MSU, Andrew Busby drew the start but was lifted after back-to-back one-out hits in the USA second inning.
The Jaguars finished with 13 hits. Center fielder Taylor White had five hits for USA. Jordan Patterson finished with a team-high three RBIs.
MSU returns to Southeastern Conference play this weekend with a three-game series against Tennessee. The Bulldogs and Volunteers meet at 5 p.m. CT Friday, 3 p.m. CT Saturday and 1 p.m. CT Sunday at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.