Alabama hitter Austen Smith laced a walk-off double to give the Crimson Tide an 8-7 victory Sunday. Photo by: Alabama athletics
May 6, 2012 5:48:25 PM
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -In a fleeting moment, the Mississippi State University baseball thought they would get to leave Thomas-Sewell Stadium with its first sweep in Tuscaloosa since 2004.
It would've been remembered as the game the Bulldogs stole, a victory where State used 19 of its 27 players allowed on the travel rules according to Southeastern Conference rules and MSU's second sweep this season.
All of those things came became instantly irrelevant when University of Alabama first baseman Austen Smith laced a hit off the left-centerfield wall to salvage a 8-7 victory Sunday afternoon.
The loss left MSU coach John Cohen as mad as the fourth-year head coach has ever been this season. A controversial call on a chopper in front of home plate left Cohen, a Tuscaloosa, Ala., native, in the face of all three umpires when the foul call was made. MSU's position was the ball was bounced on the plate making for it being a fair ball which is why the Bulldogs coaching staff told relief pitcher Taylor Stark to throw the ball to first base in a pseudo appeal effort.
"When you go on the road in the SEC you have a lot of things working against you and certainly our kids did a great job of overcoming (those things)," Cohen said. "There are things you can control in this game and things that you can't. We ain't backing down to anybody no matter what the conditions."
Instead MSU (29-18, 12-12 in SEC) traveled back down Highway 82 with a sour taste in their mouths after overcoming a four-run deficit in the final two innings of play.
"I really felt like we should've won a ball game today - we didn't but I'm really pleased with the things that we did today that were in our control," Cohen said.
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 Bulldogs saw the door open when reserve infielder Matthew Britton drew a walk on a full-count pitch followed by designated hitter Trey Porter smashing a ground-rule double down the right field line. Reserve Phillip Casey followed with a two-run single that drove both runners home giving MSU its first lead of the day at 7-6.
The Crimson Tide (18-30, 7-17 in SEC play) bullpen surrendered five runs while managing to just get six outs and ruining a quality start of Charley Sullivan. The former Northwest Mississippi Community College transfer from Oxford held MSU to just one earned run on five hits but got the hard luck no-decision.
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 - their most since March 23 vs. the University of Arkansas. Porter had four hits, while Casey entered late in the contest and had two singles and three RBIs.
Redshirt Nick Routt (2-5) worked 4.2 innings in relief allowing four hits and three runs (all earned), while taking the loss.
The 2 hour, 47 minute game was marred at the end when a situation occurred after Alabama's game-winning hit. Cohen immediately got in the face of all three umpires screaming at them as they attempted to exit through the MSU dugout. Once Cohen was attempting to do the radio post-game interview for the MSU radio broadcast, an face-to-face shouting match occurred with MSU pitching coach Butch Thompson and a University of Alabama security guard. The two had to be separated in the MSU dugout as several players and members of the coaching staff took issue with what was being said after the game.
No authorized personnel involved had any comment on the matter including Cohen who only said he was "doing radio" when the situation occurred.
The Bulldogs and Mississippi Valley State University play a 4 p.m. doubleheader Tuesday at Dudy Noble Field. Each game is schedule to be seven innings in length.
Mississippi State (29-17, 12-11) 3,
Alabama (17-30, 6-17) 2
W - Jake Hubbard (3-2) 1.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, BB, K in 28 pitches
L - Nick Routt (2-4) 4.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 2 K in 54 pitches
MVP: Taylor Dugas: 2-for-3 with 4 RBIs and a run scored one day after becoming the all-time hits leader in the University of Alabama history.
Turning point: 4th inning - Alabama built a 5-1 lead with four runs in the fourth inning. A bases-clearing double by Dugas off MSU reliever Chad Girodo was the big blow in the inning.
All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.
2. Good times roll for Market Street music ENTERTAINMENT
5. W music students present An Evening of Classics ENTERTAINMENT