Alabama Romps Over Ole Miss, 19-6

No. 24 Alabama batted around in each of the first two innings, sending 22 batters to the plate and cruised to a 19-6 win over No. 12 Mississippi on Sunday afternoon at Swayze Field. The Tide scored 14 runs on 16 hits in the first two innings and stroked four doubles and four home runs.

The 19 runs are the third-most ever scored by Alabama against Mississippi. The Tide posted 30-6 and 22-0 wins over the Rebels in 1902.

Freshman left fielder Taylor Dugas was the offensive catalyst, going 4-for-6 with four runs scored and one RBI. Sophomore shortstop Josh Rutledge was 3-for-5 in the game with a home run and career-high five RBI. He also scored three runs. Senior right fielder Kent Matthes recorded his third multi-homer game of the season, hitting a tape-measure solo home run in the second inning and three-run homer in the fourth. He continues to lead the NCAA with 15 home runs in 22 games this season.

"We came out with very good intensity today, because we wanted to avoid the sweep," Dugas said. "We came hot and that was our plan coming into the game. Today was a must-win and everybody came out ready to play. We did a great job up and down the lineup."

The game was never in doubt as Alabama batted around in the top of the first inning, scoring eight runs on eight hits to chase starter Brett Bukvich. The Tide opened the game with three straight hits and sent 12 men to the plate in the opening frame.

Dugas led off the game with a double down the right field line and moved to third on Rutledge's single to left. Sophomore second baseman Ross Wilson then doubled down the left field line to score Dugas with the first run of the inning. Matthes lined out to short before junior DH Brandon May smacked a three-run home run down the right field line to give UA a 4-0 lead.

After Smith grounded out, Alabama put the next five batters on base, adding four more runs to take an 8-0 lead. DiFazio was hit by a pitch and Henderson laced a single to left field. Kubal followed with an RBI double that brought the end of the day for Bukvich, who entered the game with three wins and a sparkling 0.96 ERA.

Bukvich (3-1) recorded only two outs and gave up seven runs and six hits.

Dugas greeted relief pitcher Rory McKean with a bunt single to third base and then stole second base to set up Rutledge's two-run single to cap the eight-run first inning. Dugas and Rutledge tied the Alabama record with two hits in the first inning and the duo combined for four hits, three runs scored and three RBI in the inning.

Alabama starter Del Howell labored through a 34-pitch first inning that saw the Rebels load the bases, but he struck out Matt Smith with the bases loaded to end the threat.

The Crimson Tide came right back with six more runs in the second inning, including three home runs, to take a 14-0 lead. Matthes led off the inning with a 478-foot home run that exited the stadium and landed in the nearby parking lot. Henderson and Rutledge also swatted two-run home runs in the inning for the Tide.

"It was a 2-0 pitch and right before the pitch, the catcher yelled out to the pitcher, ‘even though this guy can hit it 500-feet, just throw a strike," Matthes said after the game. "He threw a strike right there. It was the best pitch I saw all weekend and I took advantage of it. It was a fastball and I put a good swing on it. Everybody in the dugout told me it went over the trailer (beyond the ballpark entrance), but I did not see it land."

"I've never seen a line-drive home run hit 478-feet," Dugas added. "That was impressive."

UA scored four more runs in the fourth to up its lead to 18-0. Wilson had an RBI single and Matthes followed with a three-run home run off the batter's eye in straight-away center field. It was his second home of the game and third multi-homer game of the year.

The Tide made it 19-0 when Rutledge drew a bases-loaded walk in the fifth inning to wrap up the Tide's scoring.

Howell (2-0) settled down after the first and threw five shutout innings, giving him 11 shutout innings in six days. Howell held the Rebels to five singles and added four strikeouts and walked three.

Mississippi (15-5, 4-2 SEC) avoided the shutout with a run in the eighth inning off Miers Quigley. Backup right fielder David Phillips was hit by a pitch and later scored on a wild pitch as the Rebels scored their only run.

The Rebels scored a five runs on four hits against David Head in the ninth inning to make the final 19-6. Phillips had a two-out infield single that scored Michael Hubbard and Matt Snyder hit a grand slam to center field.

Alabama makes a brief appearance at home this week, when the Tide hosts UAB at 6:35 p.m. (CST) on Tuesday, March 24. After Tuesday's game, Alabama is back on the road against UAB on Wednesday, March 25, at 6:30 p.m. (CST) at Regions Park in Hoover, before another SEC road series next weekend against the Florida Gators.

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