STARKVILLE, Miss. — When No. 15 Mississippi State needed a lift, sophomore right-hander Austin Sexton answered the call.
Sexton threw his team’s first complete game of the season as MSU held off Alabama 4-1 to earn the split in a Southeastern Conference doubleheader Saturday afternoon at Dudy Noble Field.
With the win, MSU improved to 16-5 overall and 1-1 in league play, while Alabama fell to 10-7 and 1-1.
Alabama scored eight runs in the eighth inning to take a 10-5 win in the opener.
Game 1: Alabama 10, Mississippi State 5
The Bulldogs appeared to have things under control until the Crimson Tide erupted for eight runs in the eighth inning.
MSU rallied from a 2-0 deficit by scoring an unearned run in the fourth inning and scoring on a bases-loaded walk in the fifth inning. Senior first baseman Wes Rea delivered the big blow in the sixth inning with a two-run double for a 4-2 lead.
The Bulldogs stretched the lead to 5-2 on another bases-loaded walk in the seventh inning.
For the contest, Alabama pitching walked 12 batters but MSU stranded 15 base runners.
Junior right-hander Preston Brown worked his fourth consecutive quality start but did not factor in the decision. Brown gave the Bulldogs a strong start by allowing five hits and two runs (both earned) in six innings of work. Brown struck out five, walked four and threw 117 pitches.
The MSU bullpen struggled to hold the lead. Ross Mitchell, Trevor Fitts (1-2), Daniel Brown and Zac Houston followed in relief.
In the eighth inning, Will Haynie and Georgie Salem each had two-run singles. The big blow was a three-run home run by Mikey White off Houston.
MSU finished with eight hits. Matt Spruill and Reid Humphreys each had multiple hits.
Alabama finished with 11 hits. White had three hits and three RBIs, while J.C. Wilhite had two hits and two RBIs.
Jake Hubbard (2-1) picked up the win in relief.
Game 2: Mississippi State 4, Alabama 1
The second game belonged to Sexton. With seven strikeouts and eight hits allowed, Sexton threw 123 pitches and made sure the Maroon and White got to Sunday looking for a series win.
MSU grabbed a 2-0 lead in the third inning on an RBI double by Cody Brown and sacrifice fly by John Holland. The lead grew to 3-0 on an RBI-single by Jake Vickerson an inning later.
Alabama struck in the sixth inning but MSU got that run right back in the seventh when Josh Lovelady picked up an RBI with a bases-loaded hit by pitch.
Sexton (3-0) worked around two one-out hits in the eighth inning and a two-out single in the ninth inning.
MSU had eight hits, including multi-hit games by Jacob Robson, Jake Vickerson and Brown. The Bulldogs stranded 14 base runners.
Alabama finished with hits by eight different players. Starter Will Carter (1-2) was lifted in the sixth inning and took the loss.