STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State enjoyed Saturday’s walk-off win so much, the 15th-ranked Bulldogs did it again Sunday afternoon.
C.T. Bradford capped a four-hit day by smashing a game-winning single as MSU knocked off Alabama 7-6 in 11 innings to complete a three-game Southeastern Conference weekend series sweep at Dudy Noble Field.
The Bulldogs did not have a walk-off win prior to the weekend. However, MSU took a 5-4, 10-inning decision in walk-off fashion to cap Saturday’s doubleheader sweep. The Bulldogs started the series with a 10-6 victory.
“The kids worked really hard this weekend,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “They have some lofty goals for this season. The players knew that today’s game was huge to help them achieve some of those goals. Extra-inning games are happening all over the place in the league.
“When you have a veteran ballclub, it is easier to win these types of games”
The sweep was MSU’s second of the season and highlighted a fourth conference series victory. MSU took all three games from Alabama for the first time since 2004 and first time in this stadium since 1993. The Bulldogs have now won six of the last seven series meetings against the Crimson Tide.
With two weekends remaining in the regular season, the Bulldogs are in sole possession of third place in the SEC’s Western Division. The Bulldogs are presently fifth in the overall league standings. MSU is now 36-13 overall and 13-11 in league play, while Alabama is 27-21 and 11-12.
The Bulldogs scored seven runs in the second inning of the series opener. From there, the Maroon and White held the upper hand for most of the weekend. Sunday provide quite different. On a dreary day for baseball, the Bulldogs had to find some extra energy to erase a 6-3 deficit.
“The kids never gave up,” Cohen said. “It is so easy to let up and just say you have had a nice weekend. Down three, they just kept battling back. I am really proud of them.”
Bradford helped spark the rally with his first four-hit game of the season. After a Wes Rea RBI-single brought the Bulldogs within 6-4 with two outs in the seventh inning, Bradford followed with an RBI-single. Fresh off a three-hit performance in Saturday’s nightcap, Jacob Robson followed with a game-tying hit.
“C.T. has worked so hard on his swing, he deserves to have success,” Cohen said. “I told him late in the game, with a runner at third and less than two (outs), we would look at the squeeze. C.T. said ‘I am seeing this guy real well and I will get us a line drive’.”
After tying things in the seventh inning, the Bulldogs turned matters on the mound over to Jonathan Holder. Following Jacob Lindgren, Ross Mitchell, Will Cox and Chad Girodo, Holder sparkled even though it was not a save situation. Holder (2-0) struck out six and walked one in three innings of perfect relief. The sophomore right-hander now has 24.1 consecutive scoreless innings on the mound.
The Bulldogs flirted with victory in the 10th inning before breaking through for their second extra-inning win of the season (and second in as many days) an inning later.
Hunter Renfroe singled to start the MSU 11th inning. While trying to bunt, Brett Pirtle reached as a hit batsman. After a strikeout, Bradford connected with the first pitch he saw for a game-winner.
MSU finished with 11 hits, including a multi-hit game by Alex Detz. Alabama finished with 11 hits, including three hits by Mikey White, two hits by Kyle Overstreet and two hits by Austen Smith. White hit his first home run of the season - a three-run shot - to place UA on top 5-2 in the fifth inning.
MSU will take the midweek off before heading to Oxford for its annual battle with in-state rival Ole Miss. The Bulldogs and Rebels are set to meet at 6:30 p.m. Friday, 4 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday (Comcast Sports Southeast).