Freeman’s home run rallies MSU by ‘Bama

Published 11:40 am Monday, May 2, 2011

Mississippi State used a big rally and a big fly to earn a big win over Alabama.

Cody Freeman’s two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning broke a 5-all tie, and the Bulldogs went on to beat Alabama 8-5 on Sunday in the finale of a weekend series in Starkville. Mississippi State overcame a three-run deficit in the seventh inning, tied it in the eighth when Jaron Shepherd scored on an error, then went ahead for good on Freeman’s blast to left center.

Freeman finished the game 3-for-5 with a double, homer, two RBIs and two runs scored, and Nick Vickerson also had three hits. The Bulldogs (25-18, 8-13 Southeastern Conference) totaled 13 hits.

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Mississippi State lost the series after Alabama (28-19, 10-11) swept a doubleheader on Saturday, but coach John Cohen was satisfied with where his team stands heading into the last three weeks of the SEC season. MSU is a game out of the eighth and final spot in the SEC Tournament.

“We hit the ball hard again today,” Cohen said. “Some of them were still outs, but we got a few more to fall. We are right on the edge of knocking this door down. I say this all the time, but I really feel like we match up well with everyone from here on out. We ended the weekend almost where we started.”

Likewise, Alabama coach Mitch Gaspard was OK with how his team came out of the weekend. The Crimson Tide is tied for first place in the SEC West with Arkansas, which lost 6-5 to Georgia on Sunday.

“Any time you go on the road in the SEC and win two out of three, especially this particular weekend considering the conditions, it’s a good week,” Gaspard said.

Jared Reaves hit a three-run homer in the first inning for Alabama, which took a 5-2 lead into the seventh-inning stretch. Mississippi State, though, loaded the bases with no outs and plated a pair of runs on a sacrifice fly by Jonathan Ogden and a ground out by Ryan Collins.

In the eighth, Shepherd led off with a double and scored on a throwing error. Freeman belted the tiebreaking homer two batters later, then Vickerson singled and eventually scored on a wild pitch to make it 8-5.

Caleb Reed threw two-thirds of an inning for his eighth save. Evan Mitchell (4-1) allowed one run in 3 2/3 innings to earn the win.