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College Roundup: Big Wins For 'Bama, Mississippi State



Strike One: Alabama, Mississippi State Open SEC Play With Road Wins The first weekend of the Southeastern Conference season gave Alabama and Mississippi State tough assignments. They drew road series against top 10 foes Louisiana State and Vanderbilt, respectively.
HOW THE TOP 25 FARED
(1) Florida: won, 6-2, vs. Missouri
(2) Texas A&M: split DH at Auburn, won 12-8 and lost 9-7
(3) Oregon State: won, 12-2, vs. Arizona State
(4) Louisville: lost, 6-3, at (6) Miami
(5) Vanderbilt: lost, 5-4, vs. (15) Mississippi State
(6) Miami: won, 6-3, vs. (4) Louisville
(7) Louisiana State: lost DH vs. Alabama, 6-0 and 4-3
(8) Texas Christian: won, 7-1, vs. West Virginia
(9) California: lost, 5-4, at Southern California
(10) Virginia: lost, 9-8, vs. Wake Forest
(11) North Carolina: won, 12-2, at Duke
(12) Mississippi: won, 6-4, at Tennessee
(13) Florida State: won, 10-2, at Pittsburgh
(14) UCLA: won, 6-5, vs. Washington State in 11 innings
(15) Mississippi State: won, 5-4, at (5) Vanderbilt
(16) Louisiana-Lafayette: split DH vs. Arkansas-Little Rock, won 15-4 and lost 10-5
(17) Arkansas: lost, 6-2, at South Carolina
(18) Michigan: lost, 5-4, at (22) Oklahoma State
(19) Oregon: won, 9-5, vs. Utah
(20) Houston: swept DH vs. Grand Canyon, 5-0 and 3-1
(21) North Carolina State: lost, 8-4, vs. Notre Dame in 12 innings
(22) Oklahoma State: won, 5-4, vs. (18) Michigan
(23) College of Charleston: lost, 4-3, vs. Virginia Commonwealth
(24) Long Beach State: won, 7-2, vs. Columbia
(25) Michigan State: lost, 2-0, at South Florida
Neither the Crimson Tide nor the Bulldogs had won a road series against their opponents this weekend in a long time. It had been since 1996 that Alabama won a series at Alex Box Stadium and 2002 since Mississippi State won at Hawkins Field. But that history didn’t matter this weekend. After an extra-innings victory Friday night, No. 15 Mississippi State got a two-out, two-run single from Jake Mangum in the eighth inning Saturday to edge No. 5 Vanderbilt, 5-4, and clinch a series victory. Alabama upset No. 7 LSU, beating both righthander Alex Lange and lefthander Jared Poche’ in a doubleheader Saturday for its own series win. Alabama (13-5) started the day by handing Lange the first loss of his college career. The game was scoreless through six innings before the Crimson Tide scored four runs in the seventh on the Preseason All-American. Geoffrey Bramblett (6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K) and Jon Keller combined for the shutout. In the nightcap, the Tide pulled out to an early lead and held on for a 4-3 victory, even as they were outhit 13-7 by the Tigers (13-5). “This is a tough place to win, so obviously when you can win two in one day here it’s awfully special,” coach Mitch Gaspard said. “The series win means a lot and gets us off to a good start in SEC play.” In Nashville, Vanderbilt pulled ahead, 4-3, in the seventh inning of a back-and-forth game. But Mississippi State reclaimed the lead for good in the eighth thanks to Mangum’s clutch hit. All five of the Bulldogs runs Saturday came with two outs. Saturday’s victory was the latest twist in a topsy-turvy week for the Bulldogs (14-5-1). After sweeping Oregon last weekend, Mississippi State lost midweek games against Eastern Kentucky and Oral Roberts, before bouncing back to win two games on the road at Vanderbilt (16-3). Strike Two: Southern California Scores Statement Series Win Southern California, ranked No. 16 entering the season, stumbled out of the gate. USC lost the first two games of the season against North Dakota, and an unforgiving schedule offered no letup in the first month of the season. After beating Wake Forest in a series, USC went 1-2 in the Dodger Stadium Classic and lost a series last weekend at No. 8 Texas Christian. But with the start of Pac-12 Conference play this weekend, the Trojans (9-9) got back on track. Hosting No. 9 California, USC lost the series opener, 5-4, on Thursday, but bounced back to win the next two games and claim the series. After outslugging Cal, 18-5, on Friday, USC won, 5-4, on Saturday using timely hitting and solid relief pitching. First baseman A.J. Ramirez and shortstop Reggie Southall each collected three of the Trojans’ 14 hits. Lefthander Andrew Wright and Brooks Kriske combined for five solid innings out of the bullpen, with Wright (3 IP, 2 H, 1 R) picking up the win, and Kriske (2 IP, 1 H, 1 R) getting the save. The series win was USC’s first against Cal since 2013. The Golden Bears (11-6) will have to quickly rebound from the loss, as their challenging start to Pac-12 play continues in earnest Thursday. Oregon State and UCLA come to Berkeley the next two weekends, and Cal follows that with a visit to Oregon. Strike Three: Oklahoma State Keeps Rolling Since starting the season 2-5 and getting swept on three-straight walk-offs at North Carolina, Oklahoma State has righted the ship and played like one of the better teams in the country. The Cowboys entered the weekend having won nine of their last 10, and even a visit from No. 18 Michigan hasn’t slowed them down. No. 22 Oklahoma State defeated Michigan, 5-4, on Saturday to clinch the series and run their winning streak to seven games. Oklahoma State managed just two hits Saturday, but thanks to 11 walks issued by the Wolverines, including six by starter Brett Adcock, it was all they needed to push across five runs. The Cowboys (13-6) also got a strong start from righthander Trey Cobb (6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 13 K). His 13 strikeouts were the most by an Oklahoma State pitcher since 2012. For Michigan (11-5), this weekend represented an opportunity to pick up a marquee win before Big Ten Conference play begins. The Wolverines have out-hit the Cowboys in both of the first two games of the series, but has stranded a total of 20 runners. The Lineup Newsmakers from Saturday’s action: 1. A.J. Puk, lhp, Florida: In his best start of the season, Puk (7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 11K) helped Florida win its series against Missouri on opening weekend of Southeastern Conference play. Puk had started slow in the first month of the season, but showed Saturday the kind of dynamic talent that made him a Preseason All-American. 2. Andrew Lantrip, rhp, Houston: Lantrip (9 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K) continued his sparkling start to the season Saturday, as he needed just 88 pitches to throw a shut out against Grand Canyon in the first game of a doubleheader. Houston won the game, 5-0, and the junior improved to 3-2, 1.53 with a 39-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 35 1/3 innings. 3. Sheldon Neuse, ss. Oklahoma: In a doubleheader sweep at Cal State Bakersfield, Neuse collected seven hits, scored three runs and drove in three more. The Preseason All-American is now hitting .370/.489/.685. 4. John Naff, 1b, Washington: Naff (2-for-4, 2 R, 4 RBIs) hit the first two home runs of his career Saturday, as Washington defeated Arizona, 8-4. The junior’s first home run gave Washington the lead for good, as the Huskies won their Pac-12 Conference opening series. 5. Andrew Zellner, rhp, Cincinnati: After giving up back-to-back singles to lead off the game Saturday, Zellner (9 IP, 2H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K) allowed just one baserunner the rest of the way and Cincinnati defeated Northwestern, 1-0. The junior faced just one batter over the minimum and threw just 83 pitches. 6. Diandre Amion, of, Alabama State: The freshman homered in both games of Alabama State’s doubleheader sweep of Mississippi Valley State. On the day, Amion collected five hits, scored five runs and drove in seven. 7. Bobby Sheppard, ss, Buffalo: Against Northeastern on Saturday, Sheppard (5-for-5, 2B, R, 3 RBIs) had a perfect day at the plate and collected a career-high five hits. The senior is now hitting .311/.386/.328 in 14 games. 8. Erich Uelman, rhp, Cal Poly: In the second game of a doubleheader at Sacramento State, Uelman (9 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K) threw a shutout, as the Mustangs won, 4-0. Uelman improved to 3-0, 2.02 with 27 strikeouts and 7 walks in 35 2/3 innings this season. 9. Michael Cruz, c, Bethune-Cookman
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: In a doubleheader sweep at North Carolina Central, Cruz had three hits—all home runs. The junior has hit four home runs this season.

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