Bulldogs’ bats overwhelm Tide

Published 11:27 am Friday, May 16, 2014

Mississippi State’s road warriors showed up in full force Thursday night, and ensured that the Bulldogs will control their path to a first-round bye in the Southeastern Conference Tournament.

The Bulldogs pounded out 14 hits and broke open a tight game with three runs in both the fifth and sixth innings, and went on to beat Alabama 9-4 in the opener of a three-game series in Tuscaloosa.

Alex Detz had two hits and drove in five runs for the Bulldogs. C.T. Bradford was 3-for-4 with an RBI and three runs scored, and Seth Heck was 2-for-5 with two RBIs.

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“Up and down throughout the entire lineup, we had some really good swings tonight,” Mississippi State coach John Cohen said. “Alex Detz was really clutch. C.T. Bradford had a great night. Brett Pirtle got on base three times.”

With the win, Mississippi State (34-19, 17-11 SEC) moved into a tie for third place with South Carolina in the SEC standings. The two division winners and the next two teams in the overall standings get a bye and avoid the single-elimination round Tuesday in Hoover, Ala.

Florida wrapped up the SEC East title by beating Tennessee 6-5 on Thursday. Ole Miss beat Texas A&M 8-4 and has a one-game lead in the West.

South Carolina beat Vanderbilt 4-3 on Thursday night. Another win by the Gamecocks tonight will lock up one of the two at-large byes, and clear the way for Mississippi State to earn the other with another victory over Alabama.

Regardless of what happens in the South Carolina-Vandy series, Mississippi State can now clinch a bye by winning its series with Alabama (33-20, 14-13).

Thursday’s win was the seventh in a row on the road in league play for Mississippi State, and its sixth in seven games overall against SEC teams.

“I think we come together on the road. We get on the bus and ride together, hang out together, and we really get after it, and I think it shows on the baseball field,” Bradford said.

Alabama tied the game at 1 on an RBI single by Kyle Overstreet in the fourth inning, but Mississippi State soon put it out of reach.

RBI singles by Pirtle and Heck keyed a three-run rally in the top of the fifth, then the Bulldogs scored three more runs in the sixth to go up 7-2.

The Bulldogs had nine of their 17 hits in the fifth and sixth innings.

“Mississippi State did a good job in the middle part of the game. They got on us, and we came out sluggish, especially in the front part of the game on all ends,” Alabama coach Mitch Gaspard said. “They put a lot of runs together and took advantage of a few walks, and we made some mistakes out there as well. The game kind of got out of hand at that point with a big lead.”

Starting pitcher Trevor Fitts allowed one run in 4 1/3 innings for Mississippi State, but was pulled after loading the bases in the fifth inning and got a no-decision.

Jacob Lindgren (5-1) came on in relief, got out of the jam, and earned the win with 1 2/3 shutout innings. Myles Gentry pitched the last three innings to earn his third save of the season.

“Trevor really got us off to a good start,” Cohen said. “We only had to use Jacob for 16 pitches since we got a big lead and that is really big for the rest of the series. Myles got tired there at the end because he has not thrown a lot here lately but he got the job done.”