Alabama baseball’s comeback effort fell short, as the third-ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs claimed a 12-5 win on Thursday evening at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. With the loss, the Crimson Tide sits at 24-19 overall and 9-10 in SEC action.

“We haven’t had too many openers like that,” said Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard. “I thought offensively, in the middle part of the game we did a good job off (Dakota) Hudson to get to the bullpen. We got ourselves back in the game at 6-5 going into the seventh. We mishandled the pickoff, and I thought that was a really big play at that time. From there in the ninth inning, they were able to have some at-bats and really stretch it out.”

Alabama rallied back from an early 6-2 deficit to make it a 6-5 contest after six. The Crimson Tide scored single runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, but Mississippi State scored one in the seventh and five in the ninth to put the game out of reach.

Crimson Tide starter Geoffrey Bramblett (3-3) suffered the loss, working 5.0 innings and allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits and two walks with four strikeouts. Bramblett gave up five in the third, but bounced back to retire nine of the next 10 batters before exiting the game. Jon Keller took over in relief and allowed one unearned run across 2.0 innings of work with two walks and a season-high tying four strikeouts.

The two teams kicked off the scoring early, with Mississippi State striking first. A leadoff single followed by a grounder and another single put a runner on third with one down. A sacrifice fly to right by the Bulldogs made it a 1-0 game after the first half inning.

Alabama came right back to take the lead in the bottom of the first, scoring a pair. A leadoff single from Hunter Webb was followed by a four-pitch walk to Georgie Salem to give the Crimson Tide a pair of runners with no outs. Both runners into scoring position with an infield groundout, providing an RBI chance for Chandler Taylor. The freshman capitalized on the opportunity, sending a laser past the MSU first baseman, scoring both runners to give the Tide the 2-1 lead after one full inning of play.

In the top of the third, Mississippi State put up five runs on two errors and a pair of hits, including a two-run home run, to move its lead to 6-2. The leadoff man reached on an error and then a triple brought him around before a stolen base and a throwing error allowed everyone to move up one base, crossing the second run. An infield groundout moved a third run across, and then a walk was followed by a home run to round out the inning’s scoring.

The Crimson Tide chipped away at the lead with one run apiece in the bottom of the fourth and fifth. In the fourth, Cody Henry reached on an error with one down before Keith Holcombe delivered his first double of the season, a grounder down the left field line to bring Henry in. Alabama added one more in the bottom of the fifth, using a leadoff single from Webb and eventually a triple from Taylor to score Webb and make it 6-4 through five.

The Bulldog lead continued to dwindle in the sixth, with the Tide adding one more to make it a 6-5 game. Henry led off the inning with a double and then advanced to third on a wild pitch. One batter later, Will Haynie recorded an RBI-single to center, narrowing the gap to one run.

State widened its lead to 7-5 in the top of the seventh when an errant pickoff attempt at first went into right field and allowed a man to score. In the ninth, Mississippi State plated five runs to make it 12-5 and put the game out of reach.

The two teams square off once again tomorrow evening with a 7 p.m. CT start on SECN+. Alabama will send sophomore right-hander Jake Walters to the mound, while State counters with junior right-hander Austin Sexton.

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