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Bama takes slim win over Bulldogs

By By Mark Etheridge/Special to The Star
May 12, 2002
TUSCALOOSA Alabama rallied from an early four run deficit to outlast Mississippi State 9-7 in front of 5,779 at Sewell-Thomas Stadium Saturday. Brent Boyd had three hits and collected his sixth game winning RBI in the last seven Tide wins.
Mississippi State (28-21-1 overall – 11-14 SEC) jumped all over Bama starter Jeffrey Norris in the first inning. The Bulldogs scored four runs in the inning on five singles, a sac fly, and an outfield overthrow. Matthew Maniscalco, Steve Gendron, Matthew Brinson, Jason Burkley, and Casey Long all singled in the inning.
Scott McClanahan led off the Bama first with a line drive dinger to left. That marks the third time this season McClanahan has led off the first inning with a home run. He now has ten homers this season.
more the guys down in the order get on the more chances I get."
Alabama (42-9 overall – 19-7 SEC) led off the second with a single by Beau Hearod and a walk by Chad White. After a sac bunt by Allen Rice advanced the runners, McClanahan plated Hearod with a long sac fly to the wall.
Bama got the first three batters on base in the third as Peter Stonard singled, Jeremy Brown walked, and Brent Boyd reached on an error by third baseman Steve Gendron. Stonard scored when Travis Garner hit into a double play.
MSU chased Norris with one out in the fourth. After Stonard's second error of the game, Maniscalco doubled to left. Freshman lefty Brent Carter replaced Norris and coaxed a pop-up from Chad Henry. Gendron followed with an infield single to move the lead to a pair. Brinson drove the rightfielder Garner to the wall for an out to complete the inning.
Bulldog starter Tanner Brock left after 3.1 innings. Chris Young replaced him and walked McClanahan but got Adam Pavkovich to chop into a double play to end the threat.
Alabama tied the game on a run in the fifth. Boyd singled in Stonard but the Tide would have had more if not for a bizarre double play. With Brown on third and Boyd at first, Garner hit a one-hopper to third. Gendron made the play catching Brown in a rundown between third and home. Brown tried to extend the goose-chase long enough for Boyd to reach third. After Brown was tagged out, Boyd slid into third but the
hard tag pushed his hand off the base for the out. That play was made even more important since Hearod singled in Garner on the next play.
The game did not stay knotted long as Bulldog Brent Lewis scored on a Henry fielder's choice.
Bama fought back to take the lead in the seventh off Bulldog closer Jonathan Papelbon (2-4). Stonard led off with a walk and Brown singled to right. Boyd then mashed a 3-1 fastball to the wall in left-center for a two-RBI double. Garner then chopped an RBI double to left to score Boyd. Garner – a Starkville Academy graduate and whose brother Cager is a reserve outfielder for MSU -then stole third and raced home just ahead of the throw on a Hearod sac fly to shallow center.
MSU rallied in the eighth off Tide reliever Brian Reed (4-0). Jon Mungle
singled and Lewis walked opening the inning. Mungle scored on Maniscalco's fifth hit of the game. After a strikeout, Reed appeared to be out of the inning as Gendron hit a tailor-made double-play ball to second. He flipped to the shortstop Pavkovich who dropped the ball for Alabama's fourth error of the game. That loaded the bases for the slugging Brinson who popped to deep short. Reed got a flyout to left from JB Tucker to escape further damage.
Wells said. "That could have gotten away from a lot of players but he handled it."
In the ninth, Reed struck out Enrico Jones before walking Long. Mungle tapped into a double play to end the game.
The Bulldogs are just percentage points ahead of Arkansas for the eighth
and final invitation to the SEC Tournament. The Bulldogs are 11-14 (.440) while the Razorbacks are 10-13 (.435). Alabama can clinch the SEC West title with a win or an LSU loss on Sunday. The Tide leads South Carolina by a game and a half in the overall SEC title chase.
Maniscalco went five for five to pace the Bulldogs offense. MSU catcher Jason Burkley left the game in the first after pulling the right thumb-nail off on a diving catch attempt. At Druid City Hospital, a doctor stapled the nail back on. Coach Polk hopes to have the senior
backstop available next Friday versus Ole Miss.
Last season is Starkville, Alabama catcher Jeremy Brown suffered a similar injury to his thumb.
The teams conclude their three game series Sunday. Shane Sanders (7-1 3.09 ERA) will throw for Alabama while Joey Collums (3-5 3.36 ERA) will start for MSU.