May 19, 2007

UA/MSU: Bama wins 9-7

It was first and third no outs as new pitcher Austin Hyatt faced pinch hitter Cade Hoggard. Hyatt threw three fastballs - all strikes to collect the first out.

After getting Hoggard looking, Hyatt caught Marc Goforth looking on a 2-2 heater for the second out.

He tried to get ahead of Jeffrey Rea with a fastball and the MSU senior smacked it back up the middle for an RBI single cutting the margin to 9-7 and bringing the winning run to the plate in Joseph McCaskill. McCaskill grounded out to end it.

UA/MSU: Bottom 9 dramatics

Tide starter Will Stroup has three more outs to get to give Alabama a series victory over Mississippi State. UA leads 9-6 with MSU sending Connor Powers, Jet Butler, and Russ Sneed (6,7,8 in the batting order).

Powers led off with a double over Kent Matthes head in right. Matthes continues to struggle with the sun as he did not break back on the ball off the bat. After the leadoff double (the third sun double to right in the game), Tide coach Jim Wells replaced Matthes in right with Tyler Odle.

Butler followed with a single to right putting runners on the corners with no outs. The tying run is at the plate in the form of pinch-hitter Cade Hoggard.

Wells is making his second substitution of the inning as Austin Hyatt comes to the mound to replace Stroup.

Stroup gave up eleven hits and six runs - all earned.

UA/MSU: Leftfield Lounge

I spent a couple of innings in the leftfield lounge, a collection of trailers, platforms, and grills that sit beyond the outfield wall. I've often called Dudy Noble Stadium the best smelling ballpark in the country. The bar-b-q aroma didn't disappoint today either. I passed on the buffet - for now. Postgame is another story.

Errors again played a role in the Tide scoring two in the sixth on a pair of hits, an error, and a sac fly.

In the eighth Mississippi State got one of those back as Alabama threw wildly on an inning-ending double play. There has been plenty of action - with Bama centerfielder Emeel Salem making a couple of web-gems - but this has for the most part been very sloppy.

We got to the ninth with Bama up 9-6. Mitch Moreland moved from right to the mound for MSU. Starter Will Stroup is still in for Bama.

UA/MSU: Two out errors

Two out errors with a man on third will drive you nuts (which for some of us is a short walk). In the Bama fifth, MSU reliever Jesse Carver appeared to be out of the inning despite a runner on third. A Kyle Moore ground ball ate up third baseman Connor Powers allowing the run to score.

Then in the MSU half of the inning, Edward Easley lifted his second high fly ball of the day to rightfield. For the second straight time, Bama rightfielder Kent Matthes lost it in the sun allowing a run to score. After a wild pitch advanced Easley to third, Mitch Moreland smacked an RBI single to left.

7-5 Bama after 5

UA/MSU: Catchers' Interference

Russ Sneed got Mississippi State's first hit of the game with one in the third and advance to third base on a Mark Goforth single. UA starter Will Stroup appeared to escape unscathed as he struck out Jeffrey Rea and got Joseph McCaskill to fly out to left. However, catchers' interference was called on catcher Kyle Moore negating the third out, sending Goforth to second, and Sneed home with a run. McCaskill then singled to left to score Goforth. Edward Easley then lifted a sky-high pop to right that Kent Matthes lost and took off the chest. McCaskill scored on that play for MSU's third run after it appeared they made the third out.

It turns out Matthes was not wearing sunglasses as an Alabama player shuttled some out to him after the misplay.

6-3 Bama heading to the fourth.

UA/MSU: Bentley's drive

Alabama first baseman just smacked a two-run home run to right to double the Alabama lead to 4-0. Ryan Rhoden and Brandon May both followed with hits to chase MSU starter Josh Johnson after 2 1/3 IP.

Jesse Carver inherits a second and third one-out situation to try to hold the MSU deficit to four.

Thus far, it has been all Bama. The Bulldogs need a spark and need it fast.

UA/MSU: Absolutely perfect day for anything

Mid-70s clear with a slight breeze. Oh, this is good stuff. We've got the rubber game between rivals Mississippi State and Alabama at Dudy Noble Stadium. Alabama won game one 4-3 and the Bulldogs won game two 9-3.

Today features Bama's crafty southpaw Will Stroup (2-0/4.17) while MSU counters with senior righty Josh Johnson (2-2/5.67).

Alabama jumped on Johnson early with three hits including RBI doubles by Alex Avila and Kent Matthes. 2-0 Tide heading to the bottom of the first.

May 18, 2007

UA/MSU: Final at the Dude

Alabama rallied for two runs in the ninth to cut the margin to six but Mike Valentine got Alex Avila to end the game.

Mississippi State won 9-3 to even the series at a game each. The Bulldogs improve to 33-17 and 15-12. Alabama drops to 30-24 and 14-15. Justin Pigott got the win to improve to 5-5. Miers Quigley took the loss to fall to 4-7.

The teams complete the series Saturday at 2 p.m. CT

UA/MSU: Two runs on no hits

Mississippi State scored two runs on no hits in the eighth as the Bulldogs have stretched the lead to 9-1.

Alabama went to freshman Austin Graham on the mound in the eighth. For Graham, it was his first appearance since March 2006 after a shoulder injury.

Mike Valentine is on to pitch for the Bulldogs.

UA/MSU: Pigott too tough

MSU starter Justin Pigott is the story tonight as he has shut down the Alabama offense. Pigott has allowed six hits and a run through eight. He has struck out five and walked two.

Alabama did not threaten until the eighth when they loaded the bases with one out for the heart of their order. Alex Avila drove in a run on a fielder’s choice. Kent Matthes popped to right to end the only legitimate scoring threat off Pigott.

MSU's Brian LaNinfa tied a career high with 4 RBI.

UA/MSU: Stretching it out

Mississippi State added three more runs in the sixth to stretch their lead to 7-0 in the seventh. They chased Miers Quigley and also reliever Casey Kebodeaux.

Despite the loss, Alabama will clinch a spot in the SEC Tournament tonight because of losses by Kentucky and Tennessee. Mississippi State has an eye on Fayetteville where Arkansas and Ole Miss are playing and also on South Carolina's game with Georgia to determine the Bulldogs' seeding.

UA/MSU: OK, what did Quigley do?

Alabama starter Miers Quigley is apparently not very popular with his teammates. He seems like a nice enough guy. But in his last seven starts, he's had exactly 15 runs of support - and ten came in two games. He has another goose-egg for run support tonight as Justin Pigott has shut down the Bama offense.

We've had a couple of foul-ball deals here. An older lady was smacked in the head with a high arching foul pop she never saw. She is a trooper though as she is sitting behind first base with a bag of ice taped to her head.

We also had a young boy- maybe 10-12 - make a leaning gloved grab of a foul ball causing one of the loudest ovations of the evening.

4-0 MSU bottom 6

UA/MSU: LaNinfa yard shot

Brian LaNinfa smacked a two-run home run to right to lift Mississippi State to a 4-0 lead over Alabama. MSU starter Justin Pigott is cruising through the Bama lineup allowing just three hits through four.

Early on, its all maroon.

UA/MSU: Scouting Reports

I think I've seen these teams enough this year to assess their strengths and weaknesses. Here goes ...

Continue reading "UA/MSU: Scouting Reports" »

UA/MSU: PFPs

PFPs. Ever heard of them? Pitcher Fielding Plays. We've had a prime example early as MSU slugger Brian LaNinfa smacked a ball right back up the mound. Alabama's gangly southpaw pitcher Miers Quigley didn't finish in great position and took the ball off his trunk. The ball bounced off Quigley to become a two-out infield RBI single.

In the next half frame, MSU starter Justin Pigott delivered and finished in a fielding position and caught a smash back up the box by Elvin Vargas. The snatch saved a run as Bama had a runner on second.

Baseball is a game of little things that add up. Chalk that one up for the home team.

MSU leads 2-0 bottom 2.

UA/MSU: Its long-sleeve weather in Starkville

Starkville, Mississippi doesn't get a lot of 50-degree weather. Its on the way tonight with a low of 47 planned. Last night Alabama's Tommy Hunter took advantage of the mild temps to throw a 144 pitch complete game in Alabama's 4-3 victory.

Mississippi State's bats are plenty warm as they have touched Alabama starter Miers Quigley (4-6/4.66) for two hits and two runs in the first.

MSU starter Justin Pigott (4-5/5.04) shut Alabama down 1-2-3 in the first.

Bama shook up the lineup against the crafty lefty Pigott. After six lefthanded hitters stacked the lineup last night, tonight's version has five righthanded hitters.

UA cleanup hitter Kent Matthes just smacked a double to right that MSU rightfielder Mitch Moreland took a terrible angle on. That really shouldn't come as a huge surprise since Moreland has played first all season and is just making his third start in right.

2-0 Bullies top 2.

May 17, 2007

UA/MSU: Big Game Hunter

Tommy "Big Game" Hunter picked up his seventh win with a complete game performance as Alabama beat Mississippi State 4-3. Hunter allowed just five hits and got a grand slam from Alex Avila to account for all of the runs he needed.

With the win, Alabama moves to 14-14 in SEC play. MSU drops to 14-12. The teams meet Friday at 6:30 for game two. A pair of southpaws will pitch as Justin Pigott (4-5/5.04) goes for MSU against Alabama’s Miers Quigley (4-6/4.46).

UA/MSU: 1 800-LONG RELIEF

John Lalor did not allow a Crimson Tide hit from the fifth until one out in the ninth. He left with two outs in the ninth after 4 2/3 innings of two-hit ball.

Reliever Ricky Bowen walked the first batter he saw on four pitches to load the bases, before catching Brandon May looking to leave the bags full.

Bottom of the ninth with Hunter still on for Bama with a 4-3 lead.

UA/MSU: After Eight

Alabama clings to their one run lead after eight complete here in Starkville. All of their runs came on a fifth inning Alex Avila grand slam. They have not a hit since.

In the bottom of the eighth, MSU's Wynn Diggs reached on a one-out single in the eighth off Tommy Hunter but the righty got Edward Easley to ground out and struck out Mitch Moreland on a pair of nasty curves.

4-3 Bama top nine.

UAM/MSU: Heading to the Eighth

Alabama is riding their horse Tommy Hunter. Hunter is well over 100 pitches - an estimated 115 through seven innings - and the bullpen sits silent. The Calista Flockhart look has infected the Tide pitching staff so coach Jim Wells needs a complete game out of their beefy righthander Hunter.

John Lalor has kept the Crimson Tide hitters at bay in his three innings of relief. He has not allowed a hit and has kept Bama within striking distance.

This is shaping up as an exciting finish. 4-3 Bama top 8.

UA/MSU: The Answer

Jet Butler answered Avila’s fifth inning grand slam by smacking a solo home run to right. After Tommy Hunter hit Mark Goforth, Jeffrey Rea singled up the middle to put runners on the corners. Pinch-hitter Wynn Diggs executed a hit-and-run groundout to stay out of a double-play and score Goforth cutting the Bama lead to one. With the tying run at third, Hunter struck out Edward Easley looking.

4-3 Bama top 6

UA/MSU: I gotta have more cowbell

To quote the great Bruce Dickinson, "Guess what! I got a fever, and the only prescription... is more cowbell!".

The MSU faithful delivered with sweet cowbell nectar after freshman shortstop Jet Butler smacked a solo home run to right. That set the cowbell orchestra into a shimy-shaking shuffle as they cut the lead to 4-2.

Alabama starter Tommy Hunter has allowed three hits - two doubles and a home run.

UA/MSU: Tightroping without a net

Chad Crosswhite was stumbling across the high-wire as he stranded a pair of runners in the first three innings. It finally caught up with him in the fifth and knocked him out of the game. He did finish with seven strikeouts in four innings.

Alabama had a pair of runners on in the first, second, and third innings and failed to score. After a double play ended the fourth, the Crimson Tide loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth for Alex Avila. Avila, who had already stranded four batters in his two at bats, hit a clothesline-drive out of the park in right-center for a grand slam.

4-1 Bama top five with John Lalor on to pitch for the Dogs. Bama's starter Tommy Hunter has allowed two hits through four - both doubles.

UA/MSU: Bunching their hit

Through three innings, Alabama has five hits and six baserunners. None have scored. Mississippi State has one hit. He scored.

The story has been MSU starter Chad Crosswhite making the pitches to escape trouble. He has gotten popups and strikeouts with men on base and as a result, has a lead.

This is a fun weekend for scorewatching and the folks here and doing their share. MSU is holding out hope for an SEC West title if Arkansas falters while Alabama is hoping to play next week at Regions Park.

1-0 MSU bottom four

Lucky Dog

No, we aren't eating hot dogs on Bourbon Street, Lucky Dog refers to a group of maroon-clad players in the home dugout.

Alabama has four hits through two innings but no runs. After having runners on the corners and one out for their 4-5 hitters in the first, then had two on for top hitter Emeel Salem in the second. Senior Greg Paiml was picked off first by all-SEC catcher Edward Easley as the Bulldogs escaped damage once again. Salem then led off the third with a single.

Brian LaNinfa led off the MSU second with a double and scored on consecutive groundouts.

Under way at the Dude

Mississippi State tries to pump up their Regional host resume as they taken on Alabama at Dudy Noble Stadium tonight. The Bulldogs enter at 32-16 overall and 14-11 in the conference. Alabama is aiming for a trip to Hoover for the SEC Tournament next week. They are 29-23 overall and 13-14 in the conference. Two wins for the Tide gets them to .500 in SEC play and that gets them in the postseason discussion as well.

A lots at stake here this weekend. I haven't even mentioned the fact that Tuscaloosa is 90 miles from Starkville. We've got a border tussle on our hands.

MSU is starting Chad Crosswhile. He allowed a pair of first inning hits but escaped damage with a popup and strikeout to leave Bama runners on the corners.

Tommy Hunter started for Bama and allowed a walk but escaped undamaged in his opening frame.

After 1 - no score.

May 04, 2007

AU/MSU: postgame

I spoke with Auburn coach Tom Slater about the big play in the top of the eighth where Josh Donaldson hit what appeared to be a home run and Luke Greinke was doubled off to end the inning. Slater said Greinke was running on the play and got the go sign from third - where Slater was coaching. None of them could believe how the ball hung in the air. That was a huge momentum play considering MSU went back to back in the bottom of the inning and the game was history.

AU/MSU: Pitchers duel final

I've been more guilty than most when it comes to hammering the Miss State pitching staff. After all, the staff ERA was 5.30 entering today. But in the last 28 innings, MSU pitchers have allowed just two earned runs.

Chad Crosswhite and Aaron Weatherford combined on a three-hitter in a 4-1 victory over Auburn tonight.

The win boosts MSU to 29-12 and 11-9. Auburn falls to 28-20 and 7-15.

Crosswhite got the win to improve to 6-2. Weatherford got his third save. Evan Crawford got the loss to fall to 4-5 despite not allowing an earned run.

Its a big ballpark, but not that big

It takes quite a poke to get the ball out of Dudy Noble Stadium. There have been five balls hit to the warning track in this game that would have been home runs in a lot of yards. Auburn's Josh Donaldson just mashed a ball deep to left-center but the ball died on the track in the glove of Nick Hardy. The baserunner Luke Greinke either thought the ball was a home run or didn't know how many outs there were and was trotting between second and third as the ball was caught. MSU threw back to first to double him off.

And as I write about the big ballpark, MSU just went back-to-back with Edward Easley and Mitch Moreland doing the honors.

Momentum means a lot in college sports and it is sporting a maroon blazer. 4-1 Bullies bottom 8.

Take me out to the ballgame

I mentioned earlier Auburn is playing without a pair of key performers, Miss State is without freshman phenom shortstop Brandon Turner and outfielder Jeff Flagg.

Auburn went to the pen last inning after a pair of hard-hit balls off Evan Crawford. Crawford gave Auburn a solid five and two-third inning start. He allowed just four hits and two unearned runs. He walked three and struck out three logging 99 pitches. Chris Dennis came in and stopped a Bulldog threat.

As my Indian friend would say, "then everyone stood up and starting singing. And I didn't know the words." We're stretching in Starkville, 2-1 Bullies.

MSU-Aub: Friday night special

This is what Friday night in the SEC usually means: two solid starting pitchers holding the hit totals down.

Through five, we have six hits combined in our 2-1 MSU lead.

Auburn has gotten a superb pitching effort from sophomore Evan Crawford. Crawford was expected to be the staff ace but lost his spot in the rotation after some rocky starts. Two weeks ago he pitched well in relief in a loss to Alabama and followed that with a Friday start last weekend against Arkansas. He's pitched the way Auburn expected him to pitch before the season started tonight.

His effort is made even bigger considering the normal Tiger Friday guy Paul Burnside did not travel with the team due to injury. Leading slugger Mike Bianucci is also out of the lineup with an injured hamstring meaning two of Auburn's top three players (catcher Josh Donaldson is the other) are not playing.

MSU has gotten a solid effort from starter Chad Crosswhite. Since moving into the Friday role five weeks ago, Crosswhite has had just one shaky start (last week at Ole Miss). He's mowing them down again tonight.

After 50 minutes in the parking lot

As I sat in my car in a Mississippi State University parking lot, listening to the game on the radio, it dawned on me it was not a good idea to try to park anywhere near the baseball stadium. With graduation ceremonies next door at the Hump, there were 20,000 people vying for 5,000 parking spots. I think some people drove a couple of cars each too. It felt like Homer Simpson squeezing into a pair of 32 waist pants. Ugly and ill-fitting.

I missed the two-spot MSU put up in the bottom of the second. Brian LaNinfa had an RBI double to highlight the frame. Auburn did load the bags without a hit in the third but failed to score off Bulldog starter Chad Crosswhite.

Auburn's Evan Crawford has allowed just the one hit through three.

2-0 Bullies after 3.

April 21, 2007

LSU-MSU: LSU downs The Dude

LSU plated a run in the ninth with a two-out rally, then foiled LSU's attempted two-out rally in the bottom of the inning to escape with a 6-5 win.

Great weather, great baseball, great crowd. Just a great day at The Dude!

Continue reading "LSU-MSU: LSU downs The Dude" »

LSU-MSU: Still Locked Up

LSU and Mississippi State are still tied 5-5 in the middle of the eighth.

The Tigers actually got three walks in the top of the eighth, but never threatened because of two caught stealings in the inning.

MSU starter Justin Pigott was finally pulled after the second walk. His final line: 7.1 innings, 7 hits, 5 earned runs, 3 walks, 10 K's. 119 pitches. He should sleep well tonight. Rickey Bowen is on in relief.

LSU-MSU: Slugfest at Starkville

In the middle of the sixth at Starkville, LSU has rallied to tie Mississippi State at 5-5.

The Tigers had cut the lead to one run in the fourth, thanks to an RBI double by Nicholas Pontiff, but the Bulldogs stretched it back out with a couple of runs in the fifth. Joe McCaskill led off with a double and Edward Easley followed with a walk. Both runners moved up on a sac bunt and scored when Brandon Turner lined a single to center to make it 5-2.

LSU immediately answered in the top of the sixth. With one out, Jared Mitchell was hit by a pitch and Jason Lewis doubled him to third. A wild pitch made it 5-3, and after a strikeout, Nicholas Pontiff snuck a big fly just inside the left field foul pole to tie it.

LSU starter Ryan Byrd is out of the game after five innings. Though he started extremely well, allowing only two singles his first time through the order, his final line is ugly -- eight hits, five earned runs, and no strikeouts. TJ Forrest is on in relief.

LSU-MSU: Enjoying The Dude

After three innings at a packed Dudy Noble Field, Mississippi State leads LSU 3-1.

SS Michael Hollander got the Tigers on the board in the first with a laser-beam bomb into the Left Field Lounge. You know how some people say they don't watch college baseball because they can't stand the ping of the bats? I'm of the opinion that when you really hit a ball on the sweet spot, that loud, clear, ringing ping sounds much better than the crack of a wood bat, and Hollander's homer reeeeeally had that ping. Though he was stranded, Hollander also doubled in the third, so he's definitely the hitting star so far.

Though only one MSU starter is batting under .318, LSU Ryan Byrd went through the order quickly the first time and was doing a great job keeping the place quiet until his left-fielder misplayed leadoff hitter Jeff Rea's slicing fly ball into a double. After a walk, Edward Easley sliced a liner the other way that fell just fair for a two-run double. And with two outs, Brandon Turner blooped a fly ball between the center- and left-fielder to make it 3-1.

I'm headed out to the Left Field Lounge now to mingle. Back in a few. Maybe.

LSU-MSU: Going Yard in Starkville today

Sunny, warm, gorgeous weather today at Dudy Noble Field in Starkville for LSU-Mississippi State, and the second day of my SEC weekend tour.

The Going Yard guys are even here! Actually they were also in Oxford last night, but I apparently missed them because they spent most of the night out in the right field student section ogling Ole Miss coeds. That made me envious.

Continue reading "LSU-MSU: Going Yard in Starkville today" »

April 01, 2007

Turner wins it

Connor Powers led off the ninth with a single and took second on Nick Hardy’s pinch-hit sacrifice. After Marc Goforth’s groundout pushed Powers to third, Jeffrey Rea drew a five pitch walk from reliever Duran Ferguson.

Brandon Turner drove a ball to the wall to end the game.

Miss State wins the game 5-4 and the series 2to1.

Moreland ties it

After Brandon Turner led off the MSU eighth with a single, Kentucky almost erased him on a twin-killing. Edward Easely hit a sharp grounder to third. UK’s Matt McKinney made a quick throw to force the lead runner but Brian Spear came off a little premature on his pivot before throwing out Easley at first. MSU took advantage of the gift on the next pitch as Mitch Moreland slammed a home run to right to tie the game.

New ballgame here in Starkville tied at 4 bottom 8.

Cats crowding the plate

MSU starter Josh Johnson went five innings. He pitched well allowing just three hits and two runs. He walked three, struck out eight. But the standout statistic is that he hit four batters. Through seven innings, Kentucky has six hit by pitches. Coming into the game, they’ve been hit by 58 pitches in 28 games.

Brock Wright’s bases-loaded sac fly in the seventh gave Kentucky the lead.

3-2 in the top of the eighth.

Smack - we're tied

There is a sure way to not strand runners. After leaving eight on base through three, Sawyer Carroll took it upon himself to get his team on the board. He thwacked a Josh Johnson pitch well over the wall in right for a game-tying two-run homer.

2-2 in the MSU 4th.

Bulldogs score first

For the first time in the series, Mississippi State scored first.

Mississippi State scored in the third after Jeffrey Rea singled and Brandon Turner drove him in with a double. Edward Easley followed with a gift-double as centerfielder Antone DeJesus lost the ball in the sun. That pushed Turner to third. He scored on a Mitch Moreland groundout.

Kentucky starter Greg Dombrowski is battling a back injury and was a last minute decision on whether he could today. He hasn't pitch badly, but has labored a bit with his delivery. He is likely on a short leash with the bad back.

2-0 Bullies in the fourth.

No runs but plenty of action

Both teams have had men all over the bases early but neither has scored. Kentucky left the bases loaded in both the first and the second inning. After a flyout ended the UK second, Wildcat head coach John Cohen let his team have it in the dugout.

Mississippi State stranded a pair of runners in the first as well. Eventually, these teams are going to break through but so far the pitchers have pitched their way into and out of trouble.

No score in the Kentucky third.

Drying the field in Starkville

The rain is gone - at least for now and the sun is peeking out. We are going to play here at Dudy Noble Field.

Pat Green's "Wave on Wave" is playing on the PA (hey Sorenson, real music with words and everything). Wave on wave is kind of what these offenses have been doing in the first two games of the series.

In Friday's 10-7 MSU victory, The Bulldogs rallied from a 7-1 deficit to score seven in the seventh and two in the ninth.

Saturday Kentucky jumped out to a lead and extended it in a 10-6 victory.

Today both teams will turn to veterans to hold back these explosive hitters. MSU throws senior Josh Johnson (2-1/7.20) while Kentucky counters with junior Greg Dombroski (3-1/4.31).

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