Tide drops game & series to Ole Miss

OXFORD, Miss. -- Freshman left-hander Stephen Head led Ole Miss to an 8-3 win over No. 21 Alabama in the rubber-match of this weekend's three-game Southeastern Conference series Sunday afternoon, in front of 1,993 at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field.

With the win, the Rebels (24-16, 10-8 SEC) have now won three straight series against the Crimson Tide (27-13, 9-9 SEC) and four of the last five.

Head, who entered the game with eight saves in 11 relief appearances, limited Alabama to one run on eight hits and one walk to improve to 2-1 on the year.

Leading 2-1, Ole Miss broke the game open with a five-run seventh. Seth Smith reached second on an error by shortstop Adam Pavkovich to start the inning and advanced to third on a sac bunt by Brian Pettway. Head followed with an RBI single to score Smith and make it 3-1. Chad Sterbens then singled to move Head to third and chase Alabama starter Seth Johnson.

Sophomore left-hander Taylor Tankersley, Friday night's starter, came on in relief and was greeted by a three-run home run by Charlie Waite, measuring 419 feet, on the first pitch to give the Rebels a 6-1 lead. Tankersley allowed three runs, two earned, on three hits in 2/3 of an inning in Sunday's game after allowing nine runs, two earned, in 2/3 of an inning on Friday.

Johnson (5-2) allowed five runs, four earned, on eight hits and two walks and struck out four in 6 1/3 innings in suffering the loss.

"Johnson really pitched good for us today," said Alabama head coach Jim Wells. "We didn't seem to give him any defensive or run support. Then they got the big home run off (Tankersley). It was one of those games where we definitely had a chance to score and opportunities to score more than one run."

Waite finished 2-for-4 with three RBIs, and Smith was 2-for-4 with a home run as Ole Miss out-hit Alabama 12-11 on the afternoon. Smith put the Rebels in front for good with a lead-off home run in the third to break a 1-1 tie.

Pavkovich went 4-for-5 for Alabama and right fielder Beau Hearod was 2-for-4 with a two-run home run n the eighth to provide the 8-3 final. The home run was Hearod's 15th of the season.

Game notes:

  • Pitchers: Alabama - Johnson; Tankersley(7); Reed(8). Ole Miss - Stephen Head; M. Holliman(8). Win-Stephen Head(2-1) Loss-Johnson(5-2) T-2:58 A-1993
  • HR UA - Hearod (15).
  • HR UM - Seth Smith (3); C. Waite (3).
  • NATIONAL RANKINGS: UA- #21 SW/ESPN; #30 NCBWA
  • HR DISTANCES: UA- Hearod 396'-8th; UM- Smith 387'-3rd; Waite 419'-7th.
  • UA: Head coach Jim Wells ejected in 8th; 2-4 in SEC rubber games in 2003.
  • UM: 1st errorless game since 3/28; Sterbens 8-game hit streak
  • Tankersley faced 1 batter in the 8th.

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