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Bulldogs beat Tide to take another series

Published 12:30 am Saturday, May 17, 2014

Mississippi State won’t win the SEC West Division championship, but it probably won’t have to play an elimination game in the first round of the league tournament, either.

Matthew Britton hit a solo home run for the game’s only run, and Ross Mitchell and Jonathan Holder combined on a shutout as the Bulldogs beat Alabama 1-0 on Friday night.

Mississippi State (35-19, 18-11 SEC) won its eighth straight conference road game and the series from the Crimson Tide. More importantly, it stayed in line for one of the first-round byes in next week’s league tournament.

MSU is a game ahead of both South Carolina and Vanderbilt, who are playing each other this weekend. The winner of today’s series finale will get one of the byes. No matter the outcome there, MSU will still get one of the byes if it finishes the sweep of Alabama today.

Alabama, which led the SEC West for the first half of the season, has lost seven of its last nine conference games and three of its last four series.

Britton’s home run broke up a scoreless tie in the seventh inning, and the Bulldogs’ dynamic pitching duo took it from there.

Mitchell threw 6 1/3 scoreless innings before giving way to Holder with a runner on second and one out. MSU’s closer got out of that jam, and worked around a leadoff single in the ninth by Kyle Overstreet to lock down the shutout and his 37th career save.

Mitchell (8-4) has not allowed a run in his last 21 1/3 innings.

The game was a 180-degree turn in tempo from Thursday’s opener, when MSU won 9-4.

“I am really proud of our pitching staff,” MSU coach John Cohen said. “When you score nine runs in a game, you have a feeling that runs are going to be at a premium the next night. It has just been an incredible streak that Ross has been on here of late. He really pitched his heart out.”