STARKVILLE — Tanner Leggett’s walk-off single capped a four-run ninth-inning rally that carried the Mississippi State baseball team to an 8-7 win over Alabama on Saturday at Dudy Noble Field.
The win sealed a series win over the Crimson Tide, and the Bulldogs will have the chance to sweep on Sunday.
“It’s just the game, man,” MSU coach Chris Lemonis said. “The game’s testing us, and it’s a good test because we’re growing as a group. We’re growing as a team. Every time we win a game like this we get better as a whole group. They’re learning how to win together right now.”
State got off to a solid start, taking a 2-0 lead after four innings. Starting pitcher Parker Stinnett opened with five scoreless innings, striking out seven, but started to let up in the sixth.
Alabama took a 3-2 lead before Lemonis brought in Pico Kohn in relief. The Bulldogs got a run back their next turn to bat, but a home run by Andrew Pinckney put the Tide back in charge.
Meanwhile, Alabama reliever Jake Leger started to tear through the Bulldogs, finishing the sixth and retiring MSU in order in the seventh.
State tied it on a wild pitch in the top of the eighth, but missed a great opportunity to take a lead after loading the bases.
Closer Jackson Fristoe came into the 4-4 game and promptly let up three runs, allowing two doubles in the process. So the Bulldogs faced a three-run deficit starting the bottom of the ninth.
Kamren James, who went 3 for 5, got aboard to start the inning, and Kellum Clark belted a 1-1 fastball to left-center to score James and make it 7-5. Clark scored when Logan Tanner ripped a two-run home run to left on a 3-2 pitch, tying the game before an out had been recorded.
Leggett’s single down the line in left field scored Luke Hancock with the Leggett said after the game that there was a sense of identity forming for the Bulldogs, who had a discouraging start to the season. They will take a four-game winning streak into Sunday’s series finale against Alabama, a streak that began with a 20-run outburst after two losses at Georgia.
“That’s ‘The Dude’ effect right there,” Leggett said ninth-inning rally. “You know as (Tanner Allen) always said, don’t count the Dawgs out, and when we get into the ninth here at ‘The Dude’ it’s unreal. When the fanbase gets involved in it, it brings energy into the dugout. Good at-bats, good first at-bat there, Kamren hitting a double there absolutely got us started and just locked in, focused.”
The Bulldogs face Alabama at 2 p.m. Sunday before heading to Memphis for a Tuesday game against the Tigers. They will return to SEC play on Friday when they open a weekend series against Arkansas in Fayetteville.