Walkoff Single from Holcombe Leads Alabama Baseball to 4-3 Victory over Mississippi State
With runners on first and second and two down, junior Keith Holcombe lined a single through the right side to cross the winning run and help Alabama baseball walk off Mississippi State, 4-3, in 10 innings on Saturday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The victory evened the series with the Bulldogs up at one game apiece and helped the Crimson Tide improve to 24-24 on the season, 6-17 in Southeastern Conference play.
“This was a really good win for us,” said Alabama head coach Brad Bohannon. “It certainly wasn’t perfect. Jake (Walters) did a great job of holding the game in check. Brock Guffey and Sam Gardner did an excellent job out of the bullpen, and obviously, John (Trousdale) and Keith (Holcombe) got the big hits late. It was a really good team win. A lot of people were involved in it, and I’m really proud of our kids.”
The Crimson Tide trailed 3-2 and was down to its final two outs in the ninth, but a solo home run from sophomore John Trousdale sent the game to extras. In the 10th, Joe Breaux, a junior, led things off with a single and advanced into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt. An intentional walk in the next at-bat placed runners on first and second before a Tide strikeout brought Holcombe to the dish with two down. With the count even at 2-2, the junior knocked a single through the right side, allowing Breaux to score from second and giving the Crimson Tide the walkoff win.
Alabama kept things close late thanks to a standout relief performance from Sam Gardner (2-2), who worked 2.1 innings of scoreless baseball to earn his second win of the season. After entering in the top of the eighth with the Tide facing a 3-2 deficit, Gardner halted the MSU offense, holding them hitless while collecting a season-high six strikeouts in his effort.
Senior starter Jake Walters put together another strong performance on his graduation day at the University, throwing 5.1 frames and allowing two runs (one earned) on six hits and three walks with four strikeouts. Walters handed it over to his bullpen, where the tandem of freshman Brock Guffey and Gardner provided the time for the Tide offense.
Alabama gained the early advantage on Saturday, scoring one in the bottom of the first to take a 1-0 lead. Junior Cobie Vance led off the game with a walk. One out later, senior Chandler Avant and freshman Sam Praytor drew back-to-back walks to load the bases for the Tide. With nowhere to put him, senior Hunter Alexander drew the fourth walk in the inning and a third consecutive free pass, forcing across the game’s first run.
The Crimson Tide added one more in the second to make it a 2-0 contest. After Trousdale reached on a hit-by-pitch to begin the inning, junior Jett Manning singled to left to place runners on first and second. One out later, Breaux lined an RBI-single to center to score one and give Alabama a two-run advantage.
Mississippi State cut the deficit in half in the next half inning, plating one in the third. After drawing a walk to begin the frame, the MSU leadoff man advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch. A single in the next at-bat scored one for the Bulldogs to set things at 2-1.
The Bulldogs added single tallies in both the sixth and seventh innings to gain their first advantage of the night. The MSU sixth began with a double down the line in left before the runner advanced to third on a passed ball. A sacrifice fly followed, scoring the tying run. The Bulldogs then used a solo home run to lead off the seventh, giving them a 3-2 lead heading into the stretch.
Alabama evened things in the bottom of the ninth with the solo shot from Trousdale. With one down in the inning, the sophomore sent the first pitch he saw over the right field wall to tie the game at three apiece and send it to extras, where the Tide would walk it off thanks to Holcombe’s single.
The Crimson Tide will go for the series win on Sunday afternoon in the rubber match of the series, which is scheduled for a 3 p.m. CT first pitch. Alabama will call on redshirt freshman left-hander Garret Rukes in the start, while MSU’s starter is still to be determined. The game can be seen nationally on ESPNU with the tandem of Jac Collinsworth and Lance Cormier on the call.