Mississippi Evens Series with Tide

The No. 9 Ole Miss Rebels collected 19 hits and scored in five of the eight innings en route to a 12-10 win over the No. 22 University of Alabama baseball team in front of a OU Stadium/Swayze Field record crowd 10,119 fans Saturday afternoon.

Ole Miss (22-9, 6-5 SEC) broke a 10-10 tie in the bottom of the seventh inning and added an insurance run in the eight inning to even this three-game SEC series at one game apiece.

The rubber game will be played at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, April 10 in Oxford. Sophomore Brandon Belcher (3-0, 3.10 ERA) is expected to pitch for Alabama, while Ole Miss will counter with junior right-hander Anthony Cupps (5-2, 4.54 ERA).

Alabama (23-10, 7-4 SEC) overcame a pair of four-run (6-0 and 10-6) deficits against the hot-hitting Rebels, but could never take the lead.

"I am proud of the way our guys battled back," Alabama head coach Jim Wells said. "We showed more signs of life on offense than we did last week. We kept coming back.

"Give Mississippi a lot of credit. They swung the bat, got 100 hits and hit everybody we had. They made adjustments, battled as hard as we did and outlasted us."

Ole Miss snapped a 10-10 tie with a run in the bottom of the seventh inning off losing pitcher Jordan Davis (3-1). Junior first baseman Stephen Head led off the inning with a double and scored on Jon Jon Hancock's two-out single up the middle off freshman right-hander David Robertson.

"We tried to bring Robertson in the game after we tied it, but he was not ready," Wells said. "We then tried to walk Head but could not throw the ball off the plate and he gets a double."

Davis left after the double and Robertson got two quick outs, including a strike out off Brian Pettway, before Hancock drove home the winning run.

The Rebels added a key insurance run in the eighth inning when reserve left fielder Alex Presley led off with a double and scored on second baseman Cooper Osteen's base hit through the left side.

Osteen had three base hits, two sacrifice bunts and two RBI from the leadoff spot in the batting order.

Will Kline (1-1), who gave up the game-tying, two-run double to Welch in the seventh inning, picked up his first win of the season.

Head worked the final two innings for the Rebels for his first save of the year, but stranded two base runners in the eighth and ninth innings.

Alabama got back-to-back, one out hits from senior right fielder Matt Grooms and sophomore second baseman Greg Paiml, before sophomore center fielder Emeel Salem popped out and senior DH Allen Rice grounded out.

The Crimson Tide put the tying runs on base in the ninth inning as junior first baseman Evan Bush and senior left fielder Gabe Scott drew back-to-back walks with no outs. Head escaped without damage when freshman shortstop Cale Iorg failed to execute a sacrifice bunt and senior backup first baseman Zac Welch hit into the game-ending double play.

Ole Miss scored four runs on five hits in the bottom of the second inning to take a 4-0 lead. Zack Cozart plated the first run with a single to left field. Barry Gunther, Osteen and Chris Coghlan then followed with three straight RBI singles through the Crimson Tide infield to complete the four-run inning.

The Rebels made it 6-0 in the fourth inning on Coghlan's two-run double to left-center field to score Presley and Gunther. Coghlan had three hits and four RBI in the win for Ole Miss.

Alabama erased the six-run deficit with six runs in the top of the fifth inning to tie the game at 6-6. Senior right fielder Morrow Thomley reached on an error by Coghlan at third base. Junior catcher Kody Valverde with a base hit to right field to send Thomley to third base.

Senior third baseman Rocky Scelfo started scoring with an RBI single to left to score Thomley. Paiml then followed with a two-run single to score Valverde and Scelfo to cut the deficit to 6-3.

Paiml had three hits, two RBI and scored two runs with another productive day at the plate from the No. 9 spot in the order. Salem drew a walk before Rice flied out and Bush struck out. Scott then slammed a three-run home run well beyond the left-center field fence to score Paiml and Salem and tie the game at 6-6.

Scott, who extended his hitting streak to 20 games on Saturday, hits his fifth home run in five games for Alabama. Scott had two hits and four RBI in the loss for Alabama.

Neither starting pitcher made it through the fifth inning. Ole Miss starter Matt Maloney, making his first SEC start of the season, shutout Alabama on one-hit through four innings before running into trouble and exiting in the fifth inning.

Maloney allowed six runs and five hits in 4 2/3 innings, with two walks and seven strikeouts.

Alabama starter senior left-hander Brent Carter allowed six runs and 10 hits in four innings of work. He walked four and struck out three before turning the game over to junior right-hander Jordan Davis in the fifth inning with the game tied.

The Rebels grabbed the lead back immediately as Cozart homered to dead center off Davis to give the Rebels a 7-6 lead. Ole Miss added two more runs in the inning when Coghlan's infield ground out scored Alex Presley and Stephen Head doubled off the top of the left center field wall to score Gunther with the 9-6 lead.

Alabama tied the game with four runs in the top of the seventh inning and once again Scott was in the middle of the rally. Paiml led off with a single and moved to second base on Rice's one-out single to center. Evan Bush followed with an RBI single to left to score Paiml and Scott collected his fourth RBI of the game with a base hit to score Rice to make the score 10-8. Kline came on out of the pen to retire Iorg for the second out, but then gave up a two-out, two-run, pinch hit double to Welch knot the game at 10-10.

Bush and Scott scored on Welch's double, who out at third on the relay throw to home.

GAME NOTES:

*Alabama (12) and Ole Miss (19) combined for 31 hits in Saturday's game. The 19 hits by Ole Miss are the most allowed by Alabama in a game this season. The previous high was 16 hits by Miami (Ohio) on March 13, 2005.

*Alabama has lost three straight Saturday games after its 12-10 loss to Ole Miss. Bama is 8-4 in Saturday games this season, including a 1-3 mark in SEC play.

*Gabe Scott (2-for-4, HR, 4 RBI) extended his hitting streak to 20 games with a three-run home run that tied the game in the fifth inning. Scott later added an RBI single in the Tide's four-run, seventh inning and finished the day with a career-high four RBI.

*Scott's 20-game hitting streak is the longest by an Alabama player since Jeremy Brown posted a 20-game hitting streak from April 28 through June 11, 1999.

*With his three-run home run today, Scott has five home runs this season and all five have come in the last five games.

*During the hitting streak, Scott is batting .439 (29-for-66) with 14 runs scored, five home runs and 15 RBI.

*Greg Paiml (3-for-4, 2 R, 2 RBI) had another productive day at the plate for Alabama, with three hits and two RBI. The three hits are the most for the sophomore in an SEC game. Paiml had a career-high four hits against McNeese State on March 6, 2005.

*Alabama senior LHP Brent Carter made his 64th career appearance for the Crimson Tide on Saturday, which ranks 8th place on the school's all-time list. Carter also made his 37th career start on the mound, good for 7th place all-time at Alabama.

*Carter worked four innings on Saturday and remains in second place with 295 career innings. Lance Cormier (1999-2002) holds the record with 384 2/3 innings.

*Carter also added three strikeouts on Saturday to raise his career total to 273 strikeouts. He is one behind Mike Sodders (1985-88) second place total of 274 career strikeouts and needs 17 to break Cormier's career record of 289 strikeouts.

*UM shortstop Zack Cozart's solo home run off Jordan Davis was the first run allowed by the Alabama junior right hander in 17 2/3 innings out the pen. The solo blast to center was also the first home run allowed by Davis this season.

*Davis suffered his worst outing of the season as he allowed five runs and six hits and took his first loss of the season.

*Belcher will make his first SEC start of the season on Sunday at Ole Miss. Last year, he was the losing pitcher in a 4-2 loss in the series finale that gave the Rebels the series win. He allowed four runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings and struck out 11 batters.

*The attendance for today's game was an OU Stadium/Swayze Field record 10,119. The previous record was 9,260 against Tennessee on April 17, 2004. Ole Miss played its annual Red-Blue Football Game on Saturday in the annual Grove Bowl.

*Both Mississippi schools hosted their spring football games on Saturday and the Miss. State-Auburn baseball game in Starkville drew 10,978 fans at Dudy Noble FIeld. In sum, Ole Miss and Miss. State drew a combined 21,097 fans for two SEC baseball games on Saturday.


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