Bama Loses Home Baseball Series

Ole Miss scored three runs in the top of the first inning and sophomore left-hander Stephen Head made the lead stand into the eighth inning as the No. 5 Rebels beat the University of Alabama 4-2 to take the Southeastern Conference series in front of a paid crowd of 4,335 fans at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

Ole Miss (20-3, 5-1 SEC) took a three-run lead before Alabama even came to bat as the Rebels scored three runs on three hits in a 22-minute, 42-pitch top of the first inning against freshman left-hander Brandon Belcher.

Charlie Babineaux drove in the first run with the bunt single with the bases loaded to score Cooper Osteen.  Brian Pettway reached on a fielder's choice to score Matt Tolbert from third base and Alex Presley followed with a two-out single to scored Seth Smith.  

Belcher also walked two batters in the inning and added one throwing error on a failed pick off attempt at first base.

Alabama (17-9, 2-4 SEC) battled back and had several chances to tie the game or even take the lead, but could not come up with the one clutch hit in the late innings.

Bama's best chance came in the eighth inning when the first two batters reached base, but did not score.  Scelfo recorded his second infield hit of the game to lead off the inning and Sosa drew a walk.  Head then struck out Bush and UM head coach Mike Bianco called on right-hander Jeremy Zick out of the pen to face freshman Michael McCallister .

McCallister line into a double play on the very first pitch as Osteen snagged the hard hit ball and flipped to Tolbert at second to double up Scelfo and put an end to Alabama 's last real threat.

Head (3-0) allowed two runs on six hits in 7 1/3 innings for his second career win against Alabama . The sophomore added three walks and three strikeouts in the win.  

Zick retired all four batters he faced, including a three-up, three-down ninth for his first save of the season.

Trailing 3-0, Alabama scored its first run of the game in the sixth inning on a two-out single to left field by first baseman Evan Bush.  Junior shortstop Rocky Scelfo started the rally with a one-out double to left and scored on Bush's two-out single.

Ole Miss tacked on an unearned run in the top of the seventh inning as second baseman Cooper Osteen reached on an error by third baseman Matt Downs and later scored on Stephen Head's single to right field.

Osteen reached on a one-out error and moved to third on a hit-and-run single through the left side of the infield by Matt Tolbert.  The single chased Belcher, who settled down after a shaky first inning.

Junior left-hander Taylor Tankersley gave up the base hit to Head, but then got Seth Smith to bounce into the 1-6-3 inning-ending double play.

Belcher allowed four runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings, with two walks and 11 strikeouts.  He held the Rebels to one unearned run on three hits over the last five-plus innings after allowing three runs in the first inning.

Tankersley pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of Belcher, with one walk and four strikeouts.  He combined with Belcher to strike out 15 Ole Miss batters in the loss.

Tolbert had three hits and Alex Presley added two hits to pace the nine-hit attack for Ole Miss.

Scelfo had three of UA's six hits in the loss.

Alabama hits the road this week for four games at South Alabama (Mar. 31) and Arkansas (April 2-4).  Ole Miss hosts SE Louisiana this Tuesday and Wednesday before meeting Miss. State in Starkville next weekend.

GAME NOTES:

 *Sophomore first baseman Evan Bush's RBI single in the sixth inning is the first run scored by the Crimson Tide in the first six innings of its last four SEC games.  Alabama did not score a run in the first six innings last Sunday at Georgia and had not score before the ninth inning in the first two games against Ole Miss this weekend.

 *Ole Miss starter Stephen Head was effective against the Crimson Tide, throwing just 86 pitches in 7 1/3 innings in the series finale.  

 *Ole Miss pitchers recorded nine outs on Sunday on the first pitch to an Alabama hitter.

 *Alabama pitchers struck out 15 Ole Miss batters on Sunday, including four strikeouts by Stephen Head.

 *Every Alabama starter, with exception of Brent Carter, has a 10-strikeout game this season.  Belcher had 11 strikeouts today against Ole Miss to add his name to that list.

 *With the win, Ole Miss has now won four straight series with Alabama , dating back to 2001.  

 *Alabama has lost five straight SEC series, including two straight at home, dating back to last season.


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