May 16, 2014 10:11:35 AM
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Five players had two hits or more and Alex Detz had a career-high five RBIs Thursday night to lead the No. 20 Mississippi State baseball team to a 9-4 victory against No. 19 Alabama at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
The Bulldogs (34-19, 17-11 Southeastern Conference) scored three runs in the fifth and sixth innings to break a 1-1 tie and remain one game behind Ole Miss in the SEC's Western Division.
Detz was part of the top half of the lineup that had nine of the team's 14 hits. Senior center fielder CT Bradford went 3-for-4 with an RBI and three runs scored. Bradford reached base five times.
MSU chased freshman Geoffrey Bramblett, who made his first SEC start, in the fifth after an RBI single by Seth Heck and a single by Gavin Collins.
"We knew (Bramblett) was a freshman with a really good arm," Bradford said. "We just wanted to lay back and be patient. I felt like we did a good job attacking balls in the zone. That was our game plan, and we executed well."
The Bulldogs were especially crisp with two outs, particularly in the fifth, when Detz, Brett Pirtle and Heck had RBIs.
The Bulldogs have won seven-straight road games since getting swept at LSU at the beginning of April. The Bulldogs also have gone 5-6 at home since falling at Baton Rouge, La., with series losses to Texas A&M and Ole Miss and a 2-1 loss to Jacksonville State.
Jacob Lindgren (5-1), who pitched 1 2/3 innings of hitless, scoreless relief and earned the win, rubbished any notion of the Bulldogs playing better on the road than at home.
"Coach (John) Cohen preaches playing hard," Lindgren said. "As long as we play the right way, the game is gonna pay us back."
With two more road games in Tuscaloosa and SEC tournament play beginning next week in Hoover, Ala., the Bulldogs will be keen to bottle whatever mojo they've discovered in road games.
"Our first three or four guys in the lineup swung the bat well in some key situations to allow us to have a lead," Cohen said. "When we have a lead, our kids feel confident and comfortable."
Trevor Fitts went the first 4 1/3 innings for MSU. He allowed three hits and one earned run before giving way to Lindgren. Myles Gentry pitched the final three innings for his third save. He allowed two runs on four hits. He walked one and struck out two.
"At that moment, that's where we felt the game was gonna be won or lost," Cohen said. "Jacob can come in and get you swings and misses. Even though they're (Alabama) predominately a right-handed club, we felt like he was still a pretty good matchup.
"We really didn't want to pitch (closer Jonathan) Holder tonight to keep him available for tomorrow. And with as many right-handers as they have in their lineup, I think that'll be a big factor."
Cohen didn't reveal who will start today's game. Ross Mitchell is the usual Game 2 starter, but he would enter today's game without a full week of rest, a scenario Cohen is hesitant to see play out because of Mitchell's track record of pitching with as much rest as possible. Mitchell has thrown four complete games this season.
"What we don't want to do is throw Ross if he's not ready," Cohen said. "We would love to be able to push him back to Saturday, but someone is gonna be pushed up if that happens. (Lucas) Laster is a factor. Preston Brown is a factor."
Mikey White was 2-for-5 with a run scored and an RBI. Casey Hughston was 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI for the Crimson Tide.
NOTES: CT Bradford is hitting .546 when swinging at the first pitch. ... Lindgren has gone 16 consecutive innings without allowing a run. ... MSU is on the wrong side of a tiebreaker with Ole Miss, who beat Texas A&M Thursday. The Bulldogs would need to sweep the Crimson Tide and have the Rebels drop their final two games against the Aggies in College Station, Texas, to clinch the Western Division title.