Tide, Rebels Split Sunday Twin Bill

The University of Alabama baseball team split a double header with No. 15 Ole Miss on Sunday afternoon, winning the first game 5-3 before dropping a hard-fought 2-1 game in nine innings in the night cap.

Alabama is now 15-12 overall and 4-5 in Southeastern Conference play, while Ole Miss is 16-11 now overall and 4-5 in league play. Alabama, Auburn and Ole Miss are all tied for first place in the SEC Western Division after three weekends.

"When you lose the second game and then win game three you jump around, but when you lose game three after winning the first two games, it's not quite as exciting," Alabama Coach Jim Wells said. "We played well all weekend. We played sound in all three phases of the game. Ole Miss has a very talented pitching staff. All of those guys will be first-round (draft picks), I am sure. We had a chance to win the last game. We just needed one more hit."

Ole Miss 2, Alabama 1 (9 Innings) (Game 2)

Ole Miss left fielder Fuller Smith made a game-saving catch in the bottom of the eighth inning and then executed a sacrifice bunt in the ninth inning that led to the winning run as the Rebels salvaged the series finale with a 2-1 win in nine innings.

Smith made a diving catch of junior catcher Alex Avila's line drive with the winning run at second base in the bottom of the eighth inning that would have given the Tide the sweep. In the ninth, Smith's sacrifice bunt off senior right-hander Josh Copeland moved two runners into scoring position before right fielder Logan Power singled to right to give the Rebels the 2-1 lead.

Zach Miller was hit by a pitch to open the ninth inning to chase Alabama starter Robert Phares, who held the Rebels to one run and nine hits through eight innings. Brett Basham then drew a four-pitch walk against Copeland and Smith followed with the sacrifice bunt. Power then singled to right to score Miller with the go-ahead run as UM took a 2-1 lead. Cody Overbeck grounded into an inning-ending double play to end the inning.

Phares (1-1) was the tough-luck loser as he allowed two runs and nine hits, with three strikeouts and three walks in his longest outing of the season.

Ole Miss right-hander Justin Cryer (2-3) held the Tide scoreless over the final 2 1/3 innings for the win.

Junior right fielder Kent Matthes laced a two-out triple into left-center field to give the Tide one last chance for the sweep. Cryer got junior center fielder Alex Kubal to ground out to end the game as the Rebels snapped a five-game losing streak.

The Crimson Tide failed to take advantage of a one-out error in the sixth inning and a two-out walk in the seventh, but missed its best chance to win the game in the eighth inning against Cryer.

Pinch-hitter Jeff Texada led off the eighth inning with sharp single up the middle and moved into scoring position on freshman shortstop Josh Rutledge's sacrifice bunt. With the winning run at second, freshman second baseman Ross Wilson lined out to right field and Avila lined out to left field as Smith made a nifty diving catch to send the game to the ninth inning tied at 1-1.

Ole Miss scored one run on three hits in the first inning to take a 1-0 lead. Smith, Logan Power and Michael Guerrero all had singles in the inning, with Guerrero driving in the lone of the frame.

Alabama's best chance to take the lead in the first four innings came in the fourth when the freshmen tandem of Josh Rutledge and Ross Wilson reached base with no outs. Rutledge drew a lead off walk and Wilson followed with a bunt single down the third base line. Junior catcher Alex Avila flied out to center field for the first out and Rutledge moved to third on the play. Wilson was thrown out trying to steal second base and sophomore left fielder Brandon May struck out to end the inning against UM starter Cody Satterwhite.

Satterwhite held the Tide to one run and two hits in 6 2/3 innings, with seven strikeouts and five walks.

The Crimson Tide did push the tying run across the plate in the fifth inning when junior DH Ryan Rhoden's ground scored senior first baseman Matt Bentley from first base. Bentley and Matthes opened the inning with back-to-back walks and moved into scoring position on junior center fielder Tyler Odle's sacrifice bunt. Junior DH Ryan Rhoden plated the Tide's only run of the game with a ground out to shortstop Tim Ferguson. UA left the go-ahead run on third base when sophomore third baseman Jake Smith fouled out to the catcher.

The game remained tied until Ole Miss pushed the winning run across in the ninth inning to avoid the sweep.

Alabama returns to action with a pair of midweek games against the UAB Blazers on Tuesday, April 1 and Wednesday, April 2. The Crimson Tide and Blazers will play at 6:35 p.m. (CST) on Tuesday at Sewell-Thomas and will meet again on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. (CST) at Regions Park in Hoover.

Alabama 5, Ole Miss 3 (Game 1)

Alabama used a pair of late two-out rallies to post a 5-3 win over No. 15 Ole Miss in the completion of a suspended game Sunday afternoon at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

The Crimson Tide offense, stymied into the sixth inning by Ole Miss freshman Drew Pomeranz, finally solved the left-hander with two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to take a 4-3 lead.

Pomeranz, who had retired 13 straight Alabama hitters, had his streak broken with a two-out walk to Smith. Junior catcher Mike Sharp followed with a single to left field and Kubal drove in Smith with the tying run with a two-out single to left field. Kubal's base hit chased Pomeranz, who threw 127 pitches over two days against the Tide. Pomeranz (1-1) was charged with four runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings, with eight strikeouts and one walk.

Rutledge greeted Ole Miss reliever Scott Bittle with sharp single up the middle to score Sharp as the Tide grabbed a 4-3 lead. Wilson drew a four-pitch walk to load the bases, before Avila struck out on three pitches to end the inning as UA left the bases loaded.

Alabama would add another two-out run in the seventh inning to take a 5-3 lead. Junior Matthes started the rally with a two-out walk and stole second before Smith delivered an opposite field single to right to give the Tide a huge insurance run.

Senior left-hander Will Stroup (3-0) blanked the Rebels over the final 5 2/3 innings and he retired 15 straight Ole Miss batters from the third inning until he issued a pair of one-out walks in the ninth inning. Stroup (3-0) allowed one hit in 5 2/3 scoreless innings with five strikeouts and three walks in pitching Alabama to its second straight SEC series win.

Senior right hander Josh Copeland recorded the final two outs for the Tide to notch his third save of the season. He was also the winning pitcher in the series opener for Alabama.

Ole Miss led 3-2 when the game was suspended in the third inning on Saturday night.

Alabama scored first with a run in the bottom of the first inning. Rutledge led off the game with a double to left-center field and later scored on Avila's RBI single to left to give the Tide a 1-0 lead.

The Crimson Tide doubled its lead to 2-0 in the bottom of the second inning, but missed a chance for a big inning by leaving the bases loaded. Sharp laced a one-out double to left-center field and moved to third on Kubal's bunt single to first base. Rutledge followed with an infield single as Sharp scored from third to give the Tide a 2-0 lead. Wilson was hit in the foot with a 0-2 breaking ball to load the bases, before Pomeranz struck out Avila and sophomore left fielder Brandon May to end the inning.

The Rebels scored three runs on three hits in the third inning and had two runners on base when the game was suspended Saturday at 7:39 p.m. (CST). Cody Overbeck put Ole Miss on the board with an RBI double and Matt Smith tied the game with an RBI triple. Michael Guerrero gave the Rebels a 3-2 lead with a one-out single to left. The Rebels had two runners on base when the game was suspended Saturday night.

The game was resumed on Sunday and UA left-hander Will Stroup replaced Graham on the mound. Stroup got Sean Stuyverson to fly out to left to end the inning. Graham worked 2 2/3 innings and allowed three runs and six hits, with six strikeouts and two walks.


*The first game of Sunday's double header began at 4:06 p.m. (CDT) on Saturday and was suspended after the third rain delay at 7:39 p.m. that night. The game was resumed Sunday in the third inning with Ole Miss leading 3-2 and two runners on base and two outs.

*Alabama won the first two games of the series to claim its second straight SEC series win over a Top 20 team. Alabama won two of three from fourth-ranked Vanderbilt last weekend (March 21-23) and took XXX from No. 15 Ole Miss this weekend. The Crimson Tide's first three SEC series came against No. 4 Kentucky, No. 4 Vanderbilt and No. 15 Ole Miss. Vandy was the preseason favorite to win the SEC Championship and Ole Miss was the preseason favorite to win the SEC Western Division championship.

*The Crimson Tide has won 15 of its last 17 SEC home series, dating back to the 2005 season. Alabama was 4-1 in its five SEC home series in 2005, 5-0 in 2006 and 4-1 in 2007. The Tide is 2-0 this season. Alabama has won its last five SEC home series.

*Alabama had its six-game winning snapped with Sunday's 2-1 loss to Ole Miss.

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