Alabama’s baseball team has had an unfortunate tendency to sometimes waste a good pitching performance when the hitting has been insufficient. Against eighth-ranked Ole Miss at Sewell-Thomas Stadium Sunday, Bama put together a third consecutive excellent pitching performance with a six-run inning to take a 7-2 victory and win the series against the Rebels.
In three games, Alabama pitchers allowed only six runs (five earned), and starting pitchers gave up only two runs, one earned, but the Crimson Tide put together only two runs prior to Sunday, and the series was tied going into Sunday’s rubber game.
Allowing one run was plenty good enough in a fine start from Nick Eicholtz, who improved to 3-1 with six innings of one-run ball. He allowed six hits, walked two, and struck out three in throwing a season high 97 pitches. Freshman Dylan Duarte worked the final three innings, allowing one run on three hits, and had three strikeouts in earning his second save.
All three games against the Rebels were sellouts with 6,354 at Sunday’s game.
Alabama has now won six series this year and the Tide is at 22-14 on the season, including an 8-7 mark in Southeastern Conference games.
“Winning a series always starts on the mound,” said Alabama Coach Mitch Gaspard. “We got three quality starts this weekend, and I thought the team did a really nice job responding after getting beat on Friday night. Nick (Eicholtz) was able to go out and give us another really good start from the mound. We missed a few opportunities early that I thought we could have scored a couple more, but the offense came through there in the fifth inning with the six-run inning. It was a big series for us.”
Every member of the starting lineup reaching base at least once against Ole Miss. Bama was led by Cobie Vance, who finished 3-for-5 with a run scored. Connor Short and Chandler Avant each recorded two hits, with Avant adding a double and a team-high tying two RBI and one run scored.
Alabama took a 1-0 lead in the second inning. The Tide loaded the bases with a pair of singles and a walk, and got the run on Hunter Webb’s fielder’s choice groundout.
The Rebels also had a bases loaded scoring opportunity in the fifth inning and tied the game at 1-1 with a sacrifice fly.
It wouldn’t stay tied long.
Alabama sent 10 men to the plate and scored six runs in the bottom of the fifth.
Webb began the decisive inning with a single, followed by Vance with a single and Avant with a double off the top of the wall in left that scored two.
After a wild pitch and a walk put runners on the corners, Cody Henry doubled down the left field line to score one and leave Tiders at second and third. Chance Vincent provided the third double of the inning and two more runs.
Georgie Salem was safe on a fielder’s choice that eliminated Vincent and Salem moved to second on a wild pickoff throw. Short’s single scored Salem with the sixth run of the inning and the Tide had a 7-1 lead.
Ole Miss added one run in the ninth on a pair of doubles.
The weekend series drew a total of 18,689, the second most in Sewell-Thomas history for a three-game series.
“Obviously, you’re at the halfway point,” Gaspard said. “We’ve really established ourselves on the mound now. I think at this point, we’ve got a chance to really be good and pitch it good throughout the rest of the season. We’ve got a confident group down there. We’ve just got to continue to improve on the offensive end and continue to take those steps, and we can fight through this thing for the back half of the season.”
Next up for Alabama is a pair of midweek contests against in-state foes. The Crimson Tide will host Troy on Tuesday and South Alabama Wednesday, both games beginning at 6:30 p.m. CDT.