Comeback Effort Falls Short for Alabama Baseball against No. 11 Mississippi State, 6-5
Alabama baseball was unable to complete the comeback against 11th-ranked Mississippi State on Thursday evening, as the Tide suffered a 6-5 loss at Dudy Noble Field. Following the series opener, the Crimson Tide is 15-23 overall and 2-14 in Southeastern Conference play.
Thursday’s contest featured four lead changes and two ties as the Tide and Bulldogs exchanged runs from the second through the top of the fourth. Mississippi State trailed by one after top four, but answered with a three-run bottom of the fifth, which would prove the difference in the game. Alabama battled for a two-spot in the top of the sixth to make it a one-run affair, but came no closer.
The Alabama offense was led by Sam Finnerty, who finished 3-for-4 with a double, an RBI and a team-high two runs scored. Cody Henry also contributed a multi-hit effort, going 2-for-5 with one run scored. Chandler Avant and Chandler Taylor each extended their hitting streaks with one knock apiece, as Avant’s streak moved to 12 games overall and nine straight in SEC play, while Taylor’s overall streak was extended to eight straight.
Taylor put Alabama on the board early in Thursday’s matchup, sending the first pitch he saw over the wall in straightaway center to lead off the second and make it a 1-0 affair. The homer was Taylor’s team-leading 10th of the season. The Bulldogs came right back to match UA with a single run in the bottom of the second. Mississippi State led off the frame with a walk, eventually moving the man to second on a 5-3 groundout. The runner from second then crossed thanks to a two-out single to make it 1-1 after two full.
Alabama regained the lead again in the top of the third. Finnerty started the inning with a leadoff single before a sac bunt moved him into scoring position. A fielding error and a hit-by-pitch in the next two at-bats loaded them up for the Tide before a 5-3 groundout from Cobie Vance crossed Finnerty, setting things at 2-1 after three and a half. Mississippi State plated two runs in the bottom of the third to take their first lead of the day at 3-2. The Bulldogs drew a one-out walk to get things started, before a bunt in front of the plate forced an errant throw to first. The throw went high and in to right field to allow the tying run to score and move the batter to second. A single in the next at-bat placed the runners to the corners before a sacrifice fly to center crossed the go-ahead run for MSU.
Things were evened up again in the top of the fourth, as Alabama made it a 3-3 contest. The Tide half inning began with a leadoff single from Cody Henry. A wild pitch one out later moved him into scoring position before Finnerty brought Henry across with an RBI-double to the corner in right.
Mississippi State opened things up with a three-run fifth, using four hits and an error to take the lead. The inning began with a single to left-center before a two-out walk forced an Alabama pitching change. The Bulldogs greeted the new arm with a single to right that led to a play at the plate, but the throw bounced away from home for no play on the original runner and allowed one more to cross while the ball was in no-man’s land. The next State hitter doubled in the frame’s final run, making it a 6-3 game after five innings of play.
The Crimson Tide cut into the Bulldogs’ three-run lead in the sixth, posting a two-spot. Connor Short drew a one-out walk to begin the sequence before Finnerty collected his third hit of the night, a single to center, to put two on. One out later, Avant singled through the left side to score Short for the inning’s first run. Kyle Kaufman drew a walk in the next at-bat to load them up for the Tide before a wild pitch moved everyone 90 feet, including Finnerty, who came across to make it 6-5.
UA had one more opportunity in the ninth. Vance recorded a one-out single and then moved into scoring position on Henry’s two-out single to right. The Bulldogs were able to record the final out on a grounder to first, stranding the tying and winning runs on base to close out the night.
Alabama and Mississippi State will return to the diamond on Friday for a doubleheader in Starkville. Game one of the twinbill will begin at 4 p.m. CT with the second matchup scheduled to start approximately 30 minutes after the final out of game one. Both games can be seen live on SEC Network+.