Alabama, Ole Miss Open SEC Tourney

As a purely random comparison of the Alabama and Ole Miss baseball teams, we shall look at recent three-game series the Crimson Tide and the Rebels played at Auburn. The reason for the exercise is that Alabama meets Mississippi at 9:30 a.m. CDT Tuesday to begin the Southeastern Conference Baseball Tournament at the Hoover Met in suburban Birmingham.

Alabama (30-26 this year and 12-18 in SEC games) is the 11th seed in the tournament and Ole Miss (30-25 overall, 15-14 SEC) is the sixth seed. The SEC Network will televise the game.

Our purely random selection of a meaningful comparison involves Bama and Mississippi playing late-season series at Auburn. In mid-April, the Rebels went to Auburn and lost the first game, 3-1; won the second, 7-2; and lost the third, 0-14. So, 1-2 for Ole Miss.

Compare that to Bama’s recent visit to Auburn. The Crimson Tide swept the 24th-ranked Tigers on their home field by scores of 4-2, 7-6, and 14-4. That makes it Alabama 3 wins, Auburn goose egg.

Much more cerebral, one would agree, than the pedestrian look at how Alabama and Ole Miss fared when playing against one another. Nevertheless, here it is: in Oxford April 25-26, Ole Miss won both games of a doubleheader, 10-2 and 4-0, but as Bama did on a couple of other occasions, the Tide came back to win the third game, 13-4. That most recent formula of salvaging one game out of a series came in the Tide’s last outing, against seventh-ranked Vanderbilt, as Alabama took the third game, 1-0, Sunday to earn its way into the SEC Tournament.

Ole Miss is coming off a two-game weekend at home against Texas A&M. Friday’s series-opener went to the Aggies, but the Rebels earned the split on Sunday with a 7-4 win in seven innings.

So both teams come into the SEC Tournament having won their last regular season games.

The tournament site for the past few years has been the Hoover Met, once the stadium of the Double A Birmingham Barons. This year the Met served as Alabama’s home stadium while Sewell-Thomas Stadium in Tuscaloosa is being renovated.

The winner of Tuesday’s game advances to a 9:30 a.m. Wednesday game against Texas A&M as the tournament begins double elimination play on Wednesday. Tuesday’s losers are eliminated. (The other Tuesday games are Missouri vs. South Carolina following the Alabama-Mississippi game, Kentucky vs. Auburn at 3:30, and Arkansas vs. Tennessee following.

In Tuesday’s opener, Alabama will go with sophomore right-hander Geoffrey Bramblett, who leads Bama in wins with a 7-3 record. He has a 4.13 earned run average and has struck out 59, walked 25. In Bama’s win at Oxford, Bramblett was the starter and went seven innings, allowing three runs on eight hits and two walks while striking out six in picking up the victory. Ole Miss is scheduled to start senior right-hander Scott Weatherby (4-1, 2.39 ERA).

Alabama and Ole Miss have played 350 previous baseball games against one another. The Crimson Tide has a 2-5-143-2 advantage in all games. The Rebels, however, hold the lead in conference tournament games, 5-3.

This is Alabama’s 27th appearance in the SEC Tournament, including five under Coach Mitch Gaspard. Alabama has an all-time tournament record of 54-50 (51.9 per cent) and has won seven tournament championships, the most recent in 2003.

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