For the second time in as many days, No. 15 Mississippi State defeated Alabama in extra innings. This time C.T. Bradford delivered the game-winning RBI single in the 11th inning to lift the Bulldogs to a 7-6 Southeastern Conference win over the Crimson Tide on Sunday afternoon from Dudy Noble Field.
In the bottom of the 11th inning, Hunter Renfroe singled off Jon Keller (3-6) to lead off the inning and then Brett Pirtle was hit by a pitch trying to bunt to put runners on second and third. After Wes Rea struck out trying to move the runners over, Bradford recorded his fourth hit of the game, a single to shallow right field that allowed Renfroe to score from second to end the game. Bradford was 4-for-6 with three RBI on the afternoon.
"There is a reason we're 1-6 in extra innings games against ranked opponents," Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "We have to do more things better. You cannot walk seven guys, hit three batters and give up extra bases against good teams, and that's what we're doing. There have been opportunities to go get those games and were not doing enough to go get them right now."
The Tide dropped all three games of the SEC series to the Bulldogs, and now have a record of 27-21 overall and 11-12 in SEC play. Alabama is now in fifth place in the SEC Western Division and in eighth overall in the conference standings. MSU improves to 36-13 overall and 13-11 in conference play.
Alabama had a 6-3 lead going into the bottom of the seventh inning, but the Bulldogs scored three runs in the seventh off Tucker Hawley to even the score at 6-6. MSU closer Jonathan Holder (2-0) threw the final three innings, striking out six of the 11 batters he faced, to pick up the win.
"This group has to take the next step," Gaspard said. "It's one thing to lose two or three games and say ‘we're young and getting better' but this team has to take another step forward to win these types of games. We're certainly doing enough to keep ourselves in it, but at the same time were doing enough to lose it."
Mikey White paced the Tide with a three-hit game, going 3-for-5 with three RBI. The three RBI came on his first career home run in the fifth inning, which gave Alabama a 5-2 lead at the time. Austen Smith was 2-for-6 with a double and two runs scored, Kyle Overstreet was 2-for-5 and Steven Cole had a single and scored a pair of runs as the designated hitter.
The Bulldogs opened the scoring in the first inning, when a bases loaded infield single by Bradford allowed Renfroe to score. On the play, a throwing error by Overstreet allowed Pirtle to score for an early 2-0 MSU lead.
Alabama cut the deficit in half with its first run of the game in the third inning. After loading the bases on a single by Cole, an error by MSU and a bunt single by Georgie Salem, Overstreet grounded into a double play that allowed Cole cross and make the score 2-1.
The Tide opened the fourth inning with singles by Smith, Brett Booth and White before a walk to Andrew Miller pushed in a run to tie the game at 2-2. After MSU made a pitching change to remove starter Jacob Lindgren, reliever Ross Mitchell got Cole to ground into a 1-2-3 double play, then after Kenny Roberts walked, Salem grounded out back to Mitchell to end the inning with just one run across.
Alabama rallied with two outs in the fifth inning, as Smith doubled and Booth followed with a walk to set up the three-run home run by White. White connected on a 2-2 fastball that cleared the left field wall.
The Bulldogs got a run back in the home half of the fifth when a wild pitch by Alabama starter Justin Kamplain, with runners on second and third, allowed Renfroe cross the plate to make the score 5-3. The Tide answered in the top of the sixth inning when Ben Moore delivered a two-out single to drive in Cole, for a 6-3 Alabama lead.
With Alabama leading by three, MSU rallied in the seventh inning off Hawley. With two outs and runners on first and second, Rea singled to left field to drive in the first run, then Bradford doubled to the corner in right field to drive in another, making the score 6-5. The Tide went to the bullpen for Keller, who gave up an RBI infield single to Jacob Robson to tie the game at 6-6.
Both teams pitched a shutout over the next three innings, and after the Tide went down in order in the 11th, MSU got its game-winning hit from Bradford with one out and runners on first and second to end the game.
Alabama returns to non-conference action on Tuesday, May 7, when the Tide hosts Mississippi Valley State at 5:05 p.m. CST from Sewell-Thomas Stadium.