'Bama Takes 4-3 Win And Series Over 'Dogs

Jet Butler

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Ross Wilson's two-run home run in the seventh inning lifted Alabama past Mississippi State 4-3 in Southeastern Conference action Sunday afternoon.

The Bulldogs stranded 14 base runners and had an additional runner retired at the plate to end the fourth inning. After sprinting to a 3-0 lead after two at-bats, MSU failed to score again in the contest.

Meanwhile, Alabama won its third straight SEC weekend series at home. The Crimson Tide is now 22-19 overall and 8-10 in conference play, while the Bulldogs fall to 16-23 and 4-14.

MSU scored a single run in the first inning and stretched that lead with two more scores in the second inning. Alabama answered with two runs in the second inning but both teams fell silent until Wilson's third home run of the weekend with two outs in the home half of the seventh inning.

In the first inning, Ryan Collins drew a one-out walk and later stole second base. Collins came home on an RBI-double by Russ Sneed.

An inning later, Jet Butler opened the inning with a single. After back-to-back outs, Grant Hogue reached base as a hit batsman. Collins singled to drive Butler home, while Hogue later scored on a passed ball.

In the Alabama second inning, the Crimson Tide bunched three hits together. Kent Matthes opened the inning with a single and Kyle Moore followed with a double. An RBI-single by Wes Henderson scored the Tide's first run, while a groundball out by Jake Smith plated the next run.

Things remained that way until MSU reliever Michael Busby was touched for a two-out, two-run home run by Wilson in the seventh inning. Busby inherited a pair of runners with two outs in the sixth inning. A swinging strikeout of Henderson snuffed that threat. An inning later, Busby retired the first two batters before issuing a two-out walk to Josh Rutledge and allowing the home run by Wilson.

The Crimson Tide finished the weekend series with five home runs, including a pair in the same inning by Wilson in Saturday's 21-7 Alabama victory.

The late rally spoiled the return of senior tri-captain Justin Pigott to the MSU pitching staff. Pigott drew his first start since a March 15th apperance against Ole Miss. The senior left-hander has been battling shoulder stiffness. Working under a pitch count, Pigott lasted 5-2/3 innings Sunday, allowing four hits and two runs (both earned), with three walks and three strikeouts. Busby (0-4) completed the sixth ininng and worked the seventh inning. John Lalor retired the side in order in the eighth inning.

The Bulldogs, who reached at least one runner in all 27 innings in the series with the Crimson Tide, finished with 37 hits on the weekend, including 11 Sunday. Sneed finished with three hits, while Cody Freeman and Butler also had multiple hits.

Alabama only managed five hits Sunday after being held to four hits in Saturday's second game - a 6-4 MSU victory.

Austin Graham (3-1) earns the win, in relief of starter Robert Phares. Phares worked six innings, allowing nine hits and three runs (two earned), with three walks and four strikeouts. Graham threw three innings of two-hit shutout relief.

The Bulldogs travel to Hattiesburg for a midweek series with in-state rival Southern Mississippi. MSU and USM meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday at Pete Taylor Park. SEC play resumes next weekend when the Bulldogs host Eastern Division rival Tennessee.

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