STARKVILLE, Miss. — Three home runs and solid pitching led No. 5 Mississippi State baseball to a 9-1 series-clinching win over Alabama Saturday afternoon at Dudy Noble Field.
MSU now sits at 30-6 (9-5 SEC) on the year, while Alabama falls to 23-13 (4-10 SEC). The Diamond Dawgs are off to the best start in program history since the 1989 team began the year 31-6.
The three home runs included a two-run home run from Senior Elijah MacNamee and a three-run shot to left field from junior Dustin Skelton in the seventh inning. Senior Marshall Gilbert’s home run in the eighth inning was MSU’s third home run of the game to give MSU a 9-1 win.
The Dawgs took a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning and never looked back. The frame began with a single to second base from sophomore Jordan Westburg. Sophomore Tanner Allen drew a walk before a wild pitch moved runners to second and third. MacNamee drew a walk to load the bases. After an infield flyout, sophomore Rowdey Jordan slapped a two-RBI single to left field.
Gilbert and Mangum began the fifth inning with a walk and a single, respectively. Westburg then singled through the left side to score Gilbert to give MSU a 3-0 lead after five innings.
After a scoreless sixth inning, Alabama’s TJ Reeves drew a leadoff walk to begin the seventh inning. He then stole second and moved to third on a groundout. An RBI single from freshman Tyler Ras made it 3-1. MSU responded with five runs in its half of the seventh to take a commanding 8-1 lead. Mangum began the inning by drawing a walk. A pair of strikeouts followed before MacNamee’s two-run homer to right field. Sophomore Justin Foscue singled and Jordan drew a walk to put two runners on for Skelton who blasted the the three-run shot to left field. Gilbert’s solo home run in the ninth rounded out the game’s scoring.
Eight of nine MSU starters collected hits, with Westburg and Jordan each turning in two-hit performances.
Senior right-hander Peyton Plumlee (2-2) threw five scoreless innings and allowed four hits to earn the win. He struck out two batters and walked two.
Redshirt-junior Keegan James was the first pitcher to toss in relief and allowed one run on one hit in 1 2/3 innings of work. Redshirt-junior Trysten Barlow then allowed just one hit in 1 1/3 innings of work. Freshman righty Brandon Smith tossed a perfect ninth inning to close out the game.
Redshirt-junior Brock Love (4-2) was charged with the Crimson Tide loss after throwing four innings and allowing three runs on three hits. He fanned four batters and walked three.
The Diamond Dawgs will look for the series sweep Sunday at 3 p.m. CT. The game will be televised by SEC Network.