Fresh off of a series win at LSU and a Governor's Cup victory over Ole Miss, Mississippi State traveled to Tuscaloosa and defeated Alabama in game one of the series, 12-5.
Dakota Hudson started on the bump for the Bulldogs, and for the third straight series, he struggled. In 5 innings, he gave up six hits, four runs, and struck out four. After giving up two runs in the 1st inning, Hudson looked as if he were getting back into a groove, sitting Bama down in order in the 3rd. But, he stills struggled, giving up two runs in the next 2 innings.
Daniel Brown replaced Hudson, only throwing 12 pitches and giving up two hits and a run in the process. After a three pitch outing from Keegan James, Blake Smith inherited men on 2nd and 3rd with one out, and State clung on to a 6-5 lead. After Smith got out of that jam with a strikeout and a groundout, he was in control for the remainder of the ballgame. In 3 2/3 innings, Smith gave up no hits, no runs, and struck out four.
It wasn't a fantastic pitching day by any means for State, but for some whatever reason, that seems to be the norm for game ones now.
Hitting was a completely different story. State was able to plate 12 runs off 11 hits, and stranded only five runners. Jake Mangum had the best individual day at the plate, which isn't much of a surprise at this point. He went 3-5 with an RBI and scored three. Not too shabby.
State got off to a fast start, plating a run in the 1st thanks to a Reid Humphreys sac fly that scored Jake Mangum. After Alabama plated two runs of their own in the 1st, Mississippi State responded in a big way. The Bulldogs scored five runs in the 3rd, from a Jake Mangum RBI triple, a throwing error that scored Mangum, a Nate Lowe RBI groundout that scored Jack Kruger, and Gavin Collins put the icing on the cake with a two run shot that gave State a 6-2 lead.
Alabama scored in the 4th, 5th, and 6th (could've easily been a disaster for State in the 6th, thank you Blake Smith) to cut it to 6-5. In the 7th, State scored from an error that brought Jack Kruger home, and in the 9th, the game was busted open. The first four men got on base; Jake Mangum, Jack Kruger, Nate Lowe, and Mike Smith, and Nate Lowe's hit was a 2 RBI single that scored Mangum and Kruger. With men on the corners with one out, Brent Rooker stepped up and launched a three run shot to left, which gave State a 12-5 lead. Blake Smith closed it out for the Dawgs in the 9th, and the game was over.
What we're starting to see in game ones is pretty much the opposite to the beginning of the SEC campaign. We're starting to see pretty poor pitching, but State is able to respond and ultimately win it with the bats. We saw it with LSU and now Alabama. And don't forget, this hitting performance last night came against one of the better pitching staffs in the SEC. If Hudson can't get things figured out, we're probably going to have to rely on the hitting for game ones for the remainder of the year.
Mississippi State improves to 29-13-1, 11-8 and will look to continue their hot play on Friday against Alabama at 7 PM on the SEC Network +.