Not This Year

Unlike some people at the Southeatern Conference Tournament, Ole Miss' Brian Pettway doesn't have any complaints about the large size of Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.

His first-pitch two-run blast over the 405-foot center field wall off David Robertson in the eighth inning, just the sixth home run of the entire tournament, proved to be the winning runs in Mississippi's 5-3 win over Alabama, eliminating the Tide Friday evening.

And it was Pettway who was on the mound in the ninth when Evan Bush's two-out drive in the with a runner on first was hawked down by at the warning track center fielder Miles Franklin to end the game. At any other park in the conference the ball might've gone for a home run, but instead Pettway picked up the win for Mississippi and eliminated Alabama.

"I hit it well," Bush said. "I guess I didn't get it up high enough or pull it enough or whatever. I thought it was going to be a double but the guy made a great play."

Bush finished the tournament 0-for-12 in three games with six strikeouts in the tournament. As a team, the 28 of the Tide's 54 outs on Wednesday and Friday against Mississippi came via the strikeout.

Bama dropped to 38-21 overall while Mississippi improved to 42-17 and advances to play Florida on Saturday.

Just as it happened Wednesday, two unearned runs early in the game came back to haunt the Tide in Ole Miss' three-run third inning.

Mark Wright singled, then scored from first on a Cooper Osteen double scorched to the right-center field wall to begin the third before the Bama miscues ensued.

The first unearned run came when Cale Iorg made a throw in the dirt on Zack Cozart's ground ball for two-base throwing error.

The ball entered the out-of-play photographer's area, allowing each runner two bases. Osteen scored and Cozart was awarded third base, giving the Rebels a 3-1 lead.

"The way we hit, we have to make those plays and we have to move the ball when we get runners on," Wells said. "There's a way to win. You can't give them freebies. You certainly can't beat Mississippi with their pitching when you give them two freebies."

Things got tense and Alabama had its chance to win in the top of the eighth inning, but came away from a bases-loaded, one-out situation with just one run.

Pettway entered the game to pitch from right field with one out, inheriting two runners in scoring position left by starter Eric Fowler.

Pettway intentionally walked pinch-hitter Matt Grooms, the first batter he saw, then walked Morrow Thomley after getting ahead 1-2 in the count to let in the tying run.

Gabe Scott singled to lead off the eighth and Evan Bush reached on a throwing error by first baseman Stephen Head, and Zac Welch bunted them into scoring position to set the table before pettway entered.

The Crimson Tide pulled within a run in the sixth inning when Evan Bush walked and later scored on a Thomley single.

There was a showdown in the bottom of the sixth when Stephen Head was gunned down trying to stretch a double into a triple. Thomley originally mishandled Head's shot off the right field wall, but gathered the ball and threw to Greg Paiml, who threw to Bush at third on a bang-bang play.

Third base coach Stuart Lake charged out from his spot to argue the call, making contact with third base umpire Paul Guillie, but was not ejected from the game.

Gabe Scott doubled in the first inning to get the first hit of the tournament from any batter in the Nos. 1-4 spots in the Alabama lineup. His double drove in Allen Rice, who walked to lead off the game.

Jordan Davis started the game for Alabama and pitched well for six innings, giving up three runs (one earned) and six hits facing 24 batters. He did not issue a walk and struck out two batters.

Alabama's season will continue in an NCAA Regional, but it probably won't be one that is hosted in Tuscaloosa. Many expect the SEC to get four Regional host sites, in which case Alabama would likely be left out.

"It's a great acheivement for this team. Hopefully we're in a Regional that's favorable and we can play well in all phases enough to win. The goal is to win. I think we can but not a lot of room for error."

The Tide's room for error will also hinge on the health and availability of Brandon Belcher, who missed the SEC tournament with what were thought to be bone spurs. Belcher was sent back for a second MRI after the feeling a different kind of pain when attempting to toss on Wednesday.

"We were supposed to know tonight," Wells said, "so I'm a little concerned nobody came and told me anything during the game, but maybe they don't know yet."

"He tried to toss the day before yesterday and that's when he had a different feeling in his elbow than bone spurs. He knows what bone spurs feel like. Of course you're concerned about the ligament," Wells said.

"The main thing is his health - that's the number one news. Even if he is alright, there's no guarantee he'll be able to pitch."


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