TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Freshman third baseman Jake Smith smashed an RBI single to left field in the bottom of the 10th inning to score senior center fielder Emeel Salem with the winning run as the 16th ranked University of Alabama baseball team posted a 4-3 win over McNeese State to complete a three-game sweep Sunday afternoon at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
Salem led off the inning with a walk and moved to second base on sophomore second baseman Jeff Texada's sacrifice bunt. Smith then drilled a 2-1 pitch into left field for the game winner.
Sophomore designated hitter Alex Avila led off the seventh inning with a bloop double just inside the left field line and then moved to third on Kent Matthes' ground out to short. MSU starter Derek Blacksher, who held the Tide to one run and four hits through six innings, left the game after he hit Matt Bentley with a pitch to put runners and first and third.
Bentley stole second base and then reliever Danny Davis uncorked a wild pitch to score Avila from third and cut the MSU lead to 3-2. Pinch-hitters Brandon Belcher and Ryan Rhoden drew walks before senior shortstop Greg Paiml reached on a fielder's choice to score Bentley from third base with the tying run.
Paiml and Belcher tried to execute the double steal to give the Crimson Tide the lead, but Belcher was put out between third and home to end the inning.
Davis and Alabama sophomore right-hander Tommy Hunter threw a scoreless eight and ninth inning to force extra innings. However, both teams had the go-ahead run at second base in the ninth, but did not score.
Davis (0-1) took the loss after he allowed one run and three hits in three-plus innings.
Alabama senior right-hander Bernard Robert (2-0) picked up the win with a scoreless 11th inning on the mound.
Alabama starter Austin Hyatt and Blacksher took shutouts into the sixth inning. The Cowboys managed only a pair of two-out singles against Hyatt through six innings, while Alabama had a pair of one-out hits against Blacksher.
Neither starter figured into the decision after the two bullpens combined to allow five runs in the seventh inning.
Trailing 1-0, McNeese scored three runs on four hits off four Alabama pitchers in the top of the seventh inning to take a 3-1 lead.
Hyatt exited the game after allowing a leadoff double to Bryan Cartie in the top of the seventh inning. Hyatt allowed only one run and three hits in six-plus innings with no walks and seven strikeouts, but did not figure in the decision when MSU catcher Joe Hulett greeted reliever Josh Copeland with an RBI double to score Cartie and tie the game at 1-1.
Copeland struck out Bryn Thompson before allowing a base hit to Brad Becker. Alabama went to the bullpen once again and left-hander Will Stroup struck out pinch-hitter Jeramie Broussard. Patrick Kelly, the fourth pitcher of the inning, allowed a two-out, two-run single to Josh Cholley to give McNeese a 3-2 lead. The two-run single was Cholley's
first hit of the season in 12 at-bats.
After five scoreless innings, Alabama got on the board first with a run in the sixth inning to take a 1-0 lead. Paiml drew a lead off walk, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on Texada's base hit up the middle.
Alabama returns to action on Tuesday, March 6 with its first road game of the season against Southern Miss at Trustmark Park in Pearl, Miss. The game is set to begin at 7 p.m. The Crimson Tide is back home Wednesday, March 7 with a 6:30 p.m. game against Tennessee Tech. The Crimson Tide will host Nebraska next weekend in Tuscaloosa.