The Alabama baseball team had the makings of a ninth-inning rally at Ole Miss Friday night, but the hill was too high to climb and the Crimson Tide fell to the Rebels, 7-2, in the first of a three-game series.
Alabama and Ole Miss will meet at 3 p.m. CDT Saturday at Swayze Field in Oxford in the second game of the series. Senior right-hander Nick Eicholz will pitch for Bama, while the Rebels will throw junior left-hander David Parkinson.
Alabama fell to 13-17 overall and 2-8 in Southeastern Conference play in Friday’s game, played in front of a crowd of 8,456.
Down by six runs going to the ninth, Alabama got off to a promising start in a comeback try. Cobie Vance led off with a single, followed by a walk to pinch-hitter Connor Wright. After an out, Alex Webb singled deep in the hole to second, leading to a desperation throw that went awry. Vance scored with Wright and Webb moving to third and second. But the Rebels got the next two outs without further damage.
“Our guys really came out there and competed against one of the best arms in the league (James McArthur), but we didn’t take advantage of some opportunities there early in the game,” said Alabama Coach Greg Goff. “He wasn’t at his best early, and when you have an arm like that on the ropes you have to take advantage of that. I think tonight we let him off the hook in the first few innings and he settled in after that.”
McArthur went seven innings, giving up two hits, before giving way to Will Ethridge. The two Rebels pitchers scattered five singles between them.
Bama took a 1-0 lead in the first as Chandler Avant walked, went to third on two wild pitches, and scored as the Rebels traded a run for a double play. After getting a leadoff walk in the second and another wild pitch in the second inning, the Tide would not get another runner past first until the ninth. McArthur retired the final 10 batters he faced.
Tide starter Dylan Duarte (2-2) suffered the loss, working five-plus innings and allowing five runs on six hits and two walks with four strikeouts. Duarte cruised through the first three innings, allowing just one hit and striking out four before running into trouble an inning later. A four-run fourth gave the Rebels all the runs they would need, and then a solo home run by Nick Fortes to begin the sixth ended the lefty’s night. Two outs later Tim Rowe added another solo homer to make it 6-1.
A hit-by-pitch from reliever Mike Oczypok, a walk, and a single plated the final run for the Rebels in the eighth.