Entering the SEC Tournament as regular season champions for the first time since 1989, Mississippi State wanted to keep the momentum going on day one. They accomplished that, outlasting Alabama, 4-1.
Zac Houston started on the bump for the Bulldogs, and without a doubt, had his best performance of his career. In a career high 8 2/3 innings, Houston gave up four hits, one run, struck out three, and forced 20 fly outs and ground outs. He had a two hit shutout going into the 9th but couldn't keep the momentum going. If Zac Houston can continue the mojo that he has after this outing, it'll be a huge help to our pitching staff as the NCAA Tournament looms near.
Blake Smith relived Houston in the 9th, inheriting a man on second with two outs. Smith went on to throw three consecutive strikes to close the game out. Blake Smith has really come on recently as a possible closer, finishing the job in game three against Arkansas, and now Alabama.
Mississippi State was able to get some production at the plate, scoring four runs off 12 hits. It wasn't a fantastic hitting day, but Alabama has one of the deepest pitching staffs in the conference; a pitching staff that State struggled against in the regular season. But, out of all the guys, Gavin Collins shined the brightest. Collins went 4-4 with 2 RBIs and two runs scored, one of those RBIs being a solo shot in the 4th. Collins is the third Bulldog this year to go at least 4-4, joining Jake Mangum and Nate Lowe.
Mississippi State got off to a fast start, scoring in the 1st from a Gavin Collins RBI single that scored Jake Mangum. State continued in the 3rd, plating a run from a Jake Mangum groundout that scored John Holland. The Bulldogs made it 3-0 in the 4th, when Gavin Collins sent a solo shot over the left field wall and finished their scoring in the 6th, thanks to a Brent Rooker RBI single that scored Gavin Collins.
Mississippi State improves to 41-14-1 on the year and will face the red hot LSU Tigers in the winners bracket. These are probably the hottest teams in the SEC, if not the country right now, with State winning their last 12 games and LSU winning 11 of their last 12. That game will be 30 minutes after the completion of the 4:30 Ole Miss-Vanderbilt game on the SEC Network.