Tide Wins Big

Alabama's bats have too often been quiet, but the Crimson Tide had some timely hits on Friday night. The 24th-ranked Bama baseball team erupted for six runs in the bottom of the sixth setting the tone for its 12-2 win over the Ole Miss Rebels in the Southeastern Conference series opener Friday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

Alabama ace pitcher Wade LeBlanc didn't have his best stuff, but the junior left-hander was good enough as Bama moved to 3-1 in SEC play. It was the 1,000th victory in Crimson Tide history at Alabama's Sewell-Thomas Stadium, the Tide's baseball home since 1948.

Evan Bush had two home runs, but it was a bases-loaded double by Greg Paiml that was the big hit in the game.

After spotting the Rebels a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning, Alabama scored six runs in the bottom of the frame on three hits and taking advantage of four walks by freshman right-hander Cody Satterwhite, who was pitching in his first series opener of the season and his first SEC road game of his career.

The six-run first inning was equaled the most run scored in an inning by the Tide this season and was its largest first-inning out put of the year.

Junior center fielder Emeel Salem drew a lead off walk and senior third baseman Matt Downs followed with a sharp single up the middle.  Senior second baseman Evan Bush walked to load the bases, before Satterwhite uncorked a wild pitch to score Salem with the tying run. 

Senior catcher Kody Valverde singled through the left side of the infield to score Downs and give Bama a 2-1 lead.  Freshman DH Alex Avila walked to reload the bases with no outs.  After senior first baseman Spencer Pennington struck out, freshman right fielder Ryan Rhoden drew a bases loaded walk to score Bush from third base for the 3-1 lead. 

Junior left fielder Brandon Belcher popped up for the second out of the inning, before junior shortstop Greg Paiml broke the game open with a three-run double to right-center field gap as Bama took a 6-1 lead.

"The key hit that busted the game open was Paiml's ball in the gap with the bases loaded," Alabama head coach Jim Wells said.  "It was a huge relief to go from three runs to six runs with one swing.  That was a welcome sight."

Satterwhite (4-1) was charged with six runs and five hits in one inning and suffered his first career loss on the mound.  He added four walks and one strikeout.

The six-run inning was more than enough for UA starter Wade LeBlanc (5-0), who was making his 35th career start for the Tide.

While the UA junior did not have his best stuff, he still held the Rebels to two runs and eight hits in 7 2/3 innings for his fifth win of the year.  He walked a season-high three batters and struck out seven in the win.

"Wade was not as sharp and he threw more pitches than he normally does," Wells said.  "He made the pitches when he had too and got the double play when he had too.  He had good command of all three pitches tonight."

Ole Miss (13-9, 1-3 SEC) had taken a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning when Justin Henry drew a leadoff walk and scored on Chris Coghlan's RBI double to right center field.

Alabama (17-8, 3-1 SEC) padded its lead when Bush slammed a tape-measure home run over the left field scoreboard to put the Tide up 7-1 in the third inning. 

Ole Miss got a run back in the third on C.J. Ketchum's first home run of the season to make a 7-2 game.

The Crimson Tide tacked on five more runs in the fourth inning to take a commanding 12-2 lead. 

Bush led off the inning with his second home run of the game.  He finished the game 3-for-4 with two home runs and two RBI and scored three runs.  He is 9-for-17 in his last four games for the Tide.

Pennington and Belcher added RBI singles to increase the lead to 10-2.  Downs was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to make it 11-2 and Belcher scored on a Jesse Simpson wild pitch for the 10-run lead.

Junior right-hander Jake McCarter, who relieved LeBlanc with two outs in the eighth inning, retired all four batters he faced, with two strikeouts.

Alabama tallied 12 hits in the win and has 25 hits in its last two games.  In addition to Bush, Belcher added two hits and one RBI for the Tide. 

Alabama and Ole Miss continue its series with a 4 p.m. game on Saturday.  Junior right-hander Bernard Robert (3-1, 2.67 ERA) will pitch for Alabama, while junior left hander Garrett White (1-0, 0.00 ERA) will make his first start of the season for Ole Miss.

GAME NOTES:

*Alabama posted its 1,000th all-time win at the Joe with its 12-2 win over Ole Miss on Friday night.  The Crimson Tide has posted a 1,000-428-2 (.701) record in 1,430 games at Sewell-Thomas Stadium since 1948.  The ballpark will celebrate its 58th birthday Sunday.  Alabama won the first game at the field on March 26, 1948 with a 5-2 win over Bradley.

*Alabama's six-run first inning equaled the most runs scored in an inning this season.  The Tide also scored six runs in the second inning of its 12-2 win over Florida International on February 26. 

*Paiml's bases loaded double in the bottom of the first inning snapped the Crimson Tide's streak of 10 consecutive at-bats without a hit with the bases loaded.  Alabama was 0-for-3 in the loss to Troy on Wednesday night and was 0-for-2 in the first inning tonight before Paiml's three-run double.

*Paiml is 1-for-4 this season with the bases loaded and is tied with Valverde for the team-lead with six RBI with the bases loaded.

*Bush's solo home run in the bottom of the second inning was his second of the season and first since February 14 (20 games, 79 at-bats), which was the fifth-longest active home run drought on the club.  Bush added his second home run to lead off the fourth inning.  Bush now has two career multi-home run games with the other coming against Louisiana-Lafayette on June 3, 2005 at the NCAA New Orleans Regional.

*Bush was 3-for-4 in the win over Ole Miss and is 9-for-17 (.529) in his last four games.

*Bush started his 175th career game against Ole Miss.

*Belcher extended his hitting streak to seven games with his third inning bunt single.  Overall, Belcher has hit safely in 10 of his last 11 games since March 5th. 

*Salem extended his hitting streak to eight games with a fourth-inning single.

*LeBlanc moved into 10th place all-time in innings pitched on Friday night.  The junior now has 253 1/3 innings and moved past Mike Innes (250) into the all-time Top 10.

*With seven strikeouts, LeBlanc now has 261 career strikeouts to rank fifth all-time.  He needs one strikeout to tie Al Drumheller's fourth-pace mark (262) and is 46 away from tying Brent Carter's school record of 307 strikeouts.


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