Bama Drops Series

For the second weekend in a row, Alabama's Sunday starting pitching broke down, failing to get an out in the second inning and digging a deep hole to try to climb out of later.

The series finale between No. 25 Alabama and No. 13 Ole Miss was the complete opposite of Saturday's extra inning pitcher's duel that saw both starters combine for more than 18 innings on the mound.

On Sunday, neither starter made it past the third inning as the Rebels took the series with a 15-9 win in what turned out to be a typical Southeastern Conference series finale slugfest.

Alabama starter, sophomore right-hander Casey Kebodeaux allowed five first inning runs and was replaced by junior left-hander Will Stroup after allowing a lead off single to Brett Basham in the second inning.

Ole Miss starter, sophomore left-hander Brett Bukvich could not pitch with an eight-run lead as he allowed three runs in the third inning and left after he recorded only eight outs in the game.

The two teams combined for 24 runs and 36 hits in the series finale and scored at least one run in every inning except the fifth. Ole Miss went in order in the eighth for the only three-up and three-down inning of the game.

Junior shortstop Zack Cozart led the Ole Miss offense by going 5-for-5 with a home run and three four RBI. In addition to Cozart, Logan Power had three hits and three RBI for the Rebels, while Andrew Clark added three hits and one RBI.

Sophomore designated hitter Alex Avila paced the Crimson Tide by going 3-for-5 with a home run and two RBI. Sophomore left fielder Kent Matthes, junior first baseman Matt Bentley and junior right fielder Elvin Vargas added two hits each for Alabama.

Ole Miss (18-8, 3-3 SEC) scored five runs in the first inning and built an 8-0 lead through two innings, before Alabama closed the gap to 10-8 in the seventh inning. The Rebels spoiled any idea of Crimson Tide comeback with five runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.

"Two things about today's game," Alabama head coach Jim Wells said. "The guys fought back and played hard. We've done that all year. We have to find a Sunday starter on the mound that can get the job done. This has happened two weeks in-a-row."

The Rebels jumped on Kebodeuax for five runs and five hits in the bottom of the first inning. Jordan Henry reached on a leadoff single and later scored on a passed ball by by catcher Ryan Rhoden. C.J. Ketchum and Fuller Smith had RBI singles and Logan Power added a two-run double as the Rebels scored four of the five runs with two outs.

For the second straight Sunday, Kebodeaux did not make it out of the second inning as he was replaced by junior left-hander Will Stroup after he allowed a leadoff single to Brett Basham to open the second.

Kebodeaux (2-2) took the loss as he gave up six runs on six hits in one-plus inning with one walk and one strikeout.

Nathan Cryer (1-0) the second of five Ole Miss pitchers was credited with the win, despite allowing three runs and three hits in 2 1/3 innings.

The Rebels scored three runs in the second inning when Justin Henry stole third and scored on a throwing error by Rhoden, followed by back-to-back RBI singles by Zack Cozart and Andrew Clark to make it 8-0.

The Crimson Tide chased Bukvich with three runs on three hits in the third inning to close the gap to 8-3. Avila started the rally with a one-out, solo home run to right field. It was his fifth home run of the season and second in the series.

Junior right fielder Elvin Vargas and freshman pinch-hitter Brandon May collected back-to-back RBI singles with two outs to cut the Ole Miss lead to 8-3.

Bukvich, who took an eight-run lead into the inning, could not stand prosperity. He allowed three runs and six hits in 2 2/3 innings with one walk and one strikeout and left with a no decision.

Logan Power's solo home run to lead off the bottom of the third inning pushed the Rebels lead to 9-3.

Alabama (17-10, 3-3 SEC) cut the lead to 9-4 in the top of the fourth when Salem singled up the middle and scored on Avila's base hit.

Bama loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth inning with three straight walks to senior shortstop Greg Paiml, Salem and sophomore second baseman Jeff Texada. Paiml scored from when Avila hit into a double play and Salem scored on Matthes' two-out base hit to cut the lead to 9-6.

Ole Miss stretched its lead to 10-6 in the bottom of the inning when Cozart doubled to left with two outs and took third on Matthes' throwing error. Overbeck greeted reliever Tommy Hunter with an RBI single to extend the lead to four runs.

The Crimson Tide trimmed the lead to 10-8 with two more runs in the seventh inning. Bentley led off the inning with his fifth home run of the season to make it a 10-7 game. Vargas doubled off reliever Craig Rodriguez and later scored on Salem's sacrifice fly as the Tide cut the deficit to 10-8.

The Rebels put the game away in a bizarre seventh inning that saw two ejections and five runs cross the plate.

Assistant coach Joe Raccuia and head coach Jim Wells were both ejected by home plate umpire Danny Everett for protesting balls and strikes. Raccuia was ejected in the top of the inning and Wells was ejected in the bottom of the inning.

Jordan and Justin Henry had RBI singles Hunter in the seventh inning and Cozart capped a big day with a three-run home run to make it 15-8.

Avila doubled in the eighth inning and scored on Smith's sacrifice fly to make the final 15-9.

Alabama returns to action next weekend as the Crimson Tide hosts the LSU Tigers in a three-game series at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The teams will play Friday, March 30 at 6:30 p.m., Saturday, March 31 at 6 p.m. and Sunday, April 1 at 2 p.m. All three games will be televised by JUMBO and CSS Sports.

GAME NOTES:
*Junior right fielder Elvin Vargas (New York, N.Y.) made is first career SEC start Sunday at Ole Miss.

*Sophomore designated hitter Alex Avila (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) has homered in the last two games of the series against Ole Miss. He hit a solo home run in the seventh inning Saturday and added a solo home run in the third inning in Sunday's series finale.

*The 16 runs scored by Ole Miss were the most allowed by Alabama since a 16-8 loss to Houston in the 2003 NCAA College Station Regional.

*The 20 hits collected by Ole Miss were the most allowed by Alabama since Texas A&M picked up 20 hits in a 16-5 win over Alabama in the 2003 NCAA College Station Regional.

*Senior center fielder Emeel Salem (Mountain Brook) went 1-for-4 with two runs scored to extend his on-base streak to 40 consecutive games, dating back to the 2005 season. He has reached base safely in all 27 games this year.


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