Fifth Inning Dooms Bama Baseball
"The fifth inning," Alabama Coach Jim Wells said after the Tide dropped its second straight to the Ole Miss Rebels on Saturday afternoon at Swayze Field. "We walked (Kevin) Mort and Jake Smith made the error and then (Adam) Morgan broke down. He got behind in the count and three of the next four guys got hits."
No. 12 Mississippi (15-4, 4-1 SEC) turned a one-out walk and a costly Alabama error into a five-run inning to grab a 5-2 lead in the fifth. Mort drew the one-out walk against Adam Morgan and catcher Brett Basham reached when Smith booted a ground ball and a potential inning-ending double play.
Jordan Henry and Tim Ferguson followed with back-to-back RBI singles to tie the game at 2-2. Morgan appeared out of the inning again, when Power hit a ground ball to short, but the Tide could not turn the double play and Henry crossed the plate with the go-ahead run. Jeremy Travis followed with a two-run home run to give the Rebels a three-run lead.
"We have up too many runs in the fifth, aided by a walk and error," Wells added. "You can lose a game by giving up runs in only one inning."
The home run chased Morgan (3-1), who allowed five (four unearned) runs and five hits in 4 2/3 innings, with a season-high four walks and two strikeouts. It was Morgan's first loss of the season and the first loss charged to an Alabama starting pitcher.
Alabama scored a run in the top of the first inning to grab an early 1-0 lead. Josh Rutledge and Ross Wilson both reached on hit by pitches, before Kent Matthes stroked an RBI single to left center field to put the Tide in front.
The Crimson Tide made it 2-0 in the fifth inning when Smith stroked a leadoff double down the left field line and later scored on Taylor Dugas' two-out single to left.
Despite the five-run fifth inning, Alabama answered by putting the first two men on base against UM starter Phillip Irwin in the sixth inning when Wilson walked and Matthes singled with no outs. The inning quickly ended when May hit into a double play and Odle struck out.
Irwin limited the Crimson Tide to just five hits en route to his fourth win of the season.. Irwin (4-0) worked seven-plus innings and allowed two runs and five hits, with five strikeouts, one walk and two hit batters.
The Crimson Tide had its best chance to score in the eighth inning after back-to-back singles by Dugas and Rutledge with no outs, before UM reliever Jake Morgan struck out Wilson, Matthes and May, all on called third strikes to end the threat. Morgan also stuck out all three batters in the ninth inning to earn his first save.
"We had our shot in the eighth inning," Wells said. "We had two on and the next three guys struck out. In fact, the last six guys struck out."
The Crimson Tide and Rebels managed only six hits apiece in the game. Dugas and Matthes had two hits each for the Tide, while Ferguson paced the Rebels with two hits.
Alabama and Mississippi will meet in game three of the series on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. (CDT) in Oxford.
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