Paiml Gives Bama Extra Innings Win

A three strikeout, two-error day for Alabama shortstop Greg Paiml gave way to a more memorable conclusion, as Paiml delivered a one-out lash to the right-center field wall in the 10th inning, scoring Brandon Belcher from first base and giving the Tide a 9-8 come-from-behind over Ole Miss at Sewell-Thomas Stadium on Saturday.

"I knew I had to get on base," he said. "It was 2-0 and he was wild with the first two pitches so I knew what was coming. It was a fastball down the middle and I had to hammer it."

Ole Miss right fielder Logan Power had no shot at throwing out Belcher, who had singled with one out in the inning after Spencer Pennington grounded out to lead off the inning. Belcher left with the crack of Paiml's bat that split the center and left fielder.

"If we had lost the lead like that earlier in the year we probably wouldn't have come back," Alabama Coach Jim Wells said. "It's a great win because we had to fight for it."

Alabama gave up a three-run lead in the ninth inning when Zack Cozart hit a grand slam off Bama's ace reliever David Robertson to put Mississippi ahead 8-7.

Down a run, Bama third baseman Matt Downs doubled off Ole Miss' Craig Rodriguez to lead off the Tide half of the ninth, and Evan Bush drove Downs in with a single up the middle off of Will Kline, who had come on in relief, to tie the game at eight and force an extra inning.

"There was a feeling in the dugout that we could come back," Wells said.

Cozart's moon shot slam in the ninth over the left center field wall wouldn't have been so bad, but for the two walks and the single that loaded the bases preceding it. Robertson inherited two base runners with one out in the ninth inning left by Jordan Davis, and Robertson walked Chris Coghlan to load the bases.

Robertson earned the win with one and two thirds innings of work, giving up one hit and issuing two walks. After issuing two walks and allowing the grand slam in the ninth, he slammed the door on the Rebels in the 10th inning, retiring the side in order.

"He didn't let that last too long," Wells said. "He bounced back and that's why he's a good reliever."

Alabama took its second Southeastern Conference series in two weeks of SEC play, improving to 5-1 in league play and 19-8 overall. Ole Miss is now 13-10 overall, 1-4 in SEC play. Alabama will go for the sweep Sunday at 1 p.m.

Just minutes before Ole Miss took the lead in the ninth, a Tide win seemed like a formality. Starter Bernard Robert was in and out of the strike zone, but his breaking ball gave Ole Miss hitters fits. In his eight innings he gave up four runs and eight hits in 130 pitches.

"He threw a lot of pitches but he finagled his way through eight innings with breaking balls and change ups," Wells said.

Emeel Salem's two-out, two-run triple in the bottom of the sixth inning one-hopped to the right-center field wall, temporarily cracking open a back-and-forth game giving Alabama a 6-3 lead. In the next at bat Downs bunted safely to drive in Salem and give the Tide a 7-3 margin.

0le Miss scratched out a run in the eighth inning to pull within striking distance when Logan Power, who had subbed for Mark Wright earlier, double to right field to lead off the inning and scampered to third on a wild pitch. Jon-Jon Hancock flied to left field to score Wright.

Kody Valverde had two hits, including a home run over the 365-foot sign in left field, in three at bats to go along with a sacrifice fly and a sacrifice bunt.

Ole Miss sent six batters to the plate in the first and scored once to take an early lead. Alabama went ahead by a run in the second on a sacrifice fly by Belcher and a bases-loaded walk by Spencer Pennington. Valverde's sacrifice fly to right field in the third inning scored Downs and gave Alabama a 4-1 lead.

In Mississippi's two-run fifth inning, there wasn't a single solidly hit ball. C.J Ketchum scored on a Matt Downs throwing error in the inning and Zack Cozart crossed home on a sacrifice pop-up to shortstop Greg Paiml after each had soft singles up the middle to lead off the inning.

Valverde's fifth-inning homer answered the Rebel runs, putting Bama back on top 4-3.

Ole Miss didn't score in the sixth, but Rebel coach Mike Bianco was sure they had when the would-be tying run was gunned at the plate in the sixth inning on a tight play.

A two out rally put men on first and second for Ole Miss, and Brett Basham hit a two-out grounder to the right of first baseman Pennington. The ball went off Pennington's glove on the right and hopped into shallow right field for a hit, and Evan Button tried to score from second base on the play. Bush scooped up the ball and his throw came up the line at home and Valverde swiped at Button as he came down the third base line.

Bianco, who was sitting in the third base dugout, thought Valverde had missed the tag but home plate umpire Fred Cannon rung Button up to end the inning. An argument ensued for almost the duration of the warm-up period in the middle of the sixth, but Bianco stayed in the game.


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