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Alabama 9, Mississippi St. 5

June 4, 1997

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) _ Top-seeded Alabama sat and watched this week while the rest of the teams at the College World Series all hit at least one home run.

After hitting 153 during the season, the Crimson Tide were homerless in their first two CWS games.

Andy Phillips finally broke the long-ball drought Tuesday night with a three-run shot in the fifth inning and Mark Peer’s two-run homer capped a five-run eighth in Alabama’s 9-5 elimination victory over Mississippi State.

``We were waiting for the big hit and Phillips certainly got it,″ Alabama coach Jim Wells said. ``The others followed, but we really broke out hitting tonight.″

Mississippi State (47-21) lost 3-2 to Alabama in their CWS opener.

``Alabama has not swung the bat well at this tournament, but they have contagious hitting,″ Bulldogs coach Ron Polk said. ``They just breed off each other.

``They’re a good hitting ball club. They took advantage of mistakes,″ he said, referring to his team’s three errors.

Alabama (54-13) will play fifth-seeded and unbeaten Miami (51-16) for the bracket championship Thursday night.

``The day off will definitely help our pitching staff,″ said Alabama second baseman Joe Caruso, who went 2-for-5. ``If we’re well-rested, we’re capable of beating Miami.″

G.W. Keller’s RBI-double broke a 4-4 tie in the eighth and Nate Duncan followed with a run-scoring single before Peer capped the big inning with his homer off reliever Van Johnson (5-4).

Alabama reliever Jarrod Kingrey (10-1), who went 2 2-3 innings, allowed a run in the top of the ninth.

Adam Piatt of Mississippi State opened the scoring in the fourth with his 17th homer of the year.

Phillips’ 15th homer of the season made 3-1 and Alabama added another run in the fifth on an RBI-single by Matt Frick.

Mississippi State tied it in the seventh on five singles, the last three _ by Richard Lee, Damian Scioneaux and Brad Freeman _ each driving in a run.

``One of the goals at the beginning of the season was to get here,″ Lee said. ``I’m disappointed that it didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to.″

Polk announced after the game that he has made a decision about whether to retire from coaching, but his players would hear it first. He said he would wait until his team could meet, probably back in Mississippi on Wednesday.

Polk is one of six men to have coached two schools to the College World Series. He brought Georgia Southern to Omaha in 1973 and five times he brought teams from Mississippi State. His best finish was third in 1985 with a team that included future major leaguers Will Clark, Rafael Palmeiro, Jeff Brantley and Bobby Thigpen.

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