Baseball blows another lead, losing in walk-off fashion once again on Saturday

Austin Hannon, Staff Reporter

Similar to Friday night, there were plenty of opportunities for the Alabama Crimson Tide to win. But just like 17 hours earlier, the Crimson Tide blew multiple leads in their 8-7 loss to the Mississippi State Bulldogs Saturday afternoon at Dudy Noble Field.

Alabama led three different times: 3-2 in the sixth, 4-3 in the seventh and 7-4 in the ninth. But after a four-run bottom, the Bulldogs walked off for the second consecutive game.

“There’s nothing more demoralizing to a team than blowing a lead late,” Alabama head coach Brad Bohannon said. “One of the nice things about our sport is that we do play so often. I’m really glad we don’t have to wait a week to play again. We need to be in a tight game and get the last three outs tomorrow so that we can get better at it.”

Starting pitching was solid again for the Crimson Tide. Jacob McNairy came in and went to work, allowing just two runs in five innings. The two runs came on a home run by Mississippi State first baseman Luke Hancock in the fourth. McNairy struck out seven batters.

Bohannon said there’s a good chance that McNairy will be used in the weekend role more moving forward.

“I would say there’s a strong chance,” Bohannon said. “He threw the ball great today. That’s what you want out of your starters. Get us to the middle of the game with us in the game, and that’s exactly what he did.”

The Alabama offense once again did plenty to win a baseball game. The Crimson Tide accumulated 10 hits and put together a clutch ninth inning performance to take a three-run lead into the bottom of the inning. Zane Denton, Tommy Seidl and Andrew Pinckney all had two hits. Pinckney doubled and hit a go-ahead home run in the seventh inning.

The loss can be attributed to poor fielding and bad pitching out of the bullpen. Alabama made two errors in the field. Late-game pitching from Hunter Furtado and Hunter Hoopes did not end well. The two didn’t even make it two innings, allowing a combined five runs, seven hits and two walks.

“Hunter Furtado is one of our best guys,” Bohannon said. “We have a lot of confidence in him. We’ve had a really tough time closing games out yesterday and today. You get into these tight games late and you look down at the bullpen looking for Chase Lee, and he’s not there. We knew going into the season that we were inexperienced in the bullpen. They’re our best options and they’ll be back out there next weekend.”

The Bulldogs showed extreme resiliency for the second day in a row, creating scoring opportunities every time their backs were against the wall. Mississippi State had 14 total hits, with six of them going for extra bases.

The Crimson Tide and Bulldogs will play one more time this weekend on Sunday afternoon. Alabama will look to avoid the sweep at 2 p.m. CT on the SEC Network. Left-hander Grayson Hitt (2.33 ERA) will be on the mound for the Crimson Tide.