Kilcrease Pitches Tide Past Rebels

Junior right hander Nathan Kilcrease tossed his first career complete game, leading Alabama to a 6-3 series-clinching win over the Mississippi Rebels at Sewell-Thomas Stadium on Sunday evening. The Phenix City native pitched the Crimson Tide back into the Southeastern Conference Tournament picture with his 115-pitch performance against the Rebels.

Alabama (31-21, 12-15 SEC) is in a four-way tie with Kentucky, LSU and Tennessee for seventh place in the overall SEC standings. Two of those four teams will advance to the SEC Tournament at Regions Park in Hoover on May 26-30. The Tide travels to Knoxville next weekend for a three-game series with Tennessee, which begins Thursday at 7 p.m. EDT (6 p.m. central time). Kentucky travels to Georgia and LSU hosts Mississippi State.

Mississippi (36-17, 16-11 SEC) fell into a second-place tie in the SEC Western Division standings with Arkansas, one game behind division-leading Auburn. Mississippi hosts Auburn next weekend in Oxford, Miss.

Alabama and Mississippi waited out a nearly four-hour rain delay and started the series finale at 5:55 p.m. (CDT). Per Southeastern Conference policy the game had to begin by 6 p.m. to avoid the rainout.

Kilcrease (5-2) allowed three runs (two earned) and five hits in nine innings for his second straight SEC win. He matched his career high with seven strikeouts and added two walks.

"Nathan Kilcrease was outstanding today," Alabama Coach Mitch Gaspard said. "For a kid that really didn't start his first game until last weekend, to have back-to-back starts like that really shows what kind of competitor he is. In both starts with our backs up against the wall where we have got to have it, he delivers. Just a lot of credit goes to him."

Kilcrease's gem was the Tide's second straight complete game against the Rebels. Fellow junior Jimmy Nelson tossed his first career complete game in Saturday's 4-1 win over the 14th ranked Rebels. It marked the first time since April 9, 2006 the Crimson Tide had tossed back-to-back complete games as Bernard Robert and Tommy Hunter threw seven-inning complete games in a double header sweep of No. 1 ranked South Carolina.

"I had good command of all three of my pitches," Kilcrease said following the game. "I could get my change-up over for a strike on the first pitch, move it up and down, in and out. (UA pitching) Coach (Kyle) Bunn said he enjoys calling games where you can throw the ball anywhere you want to.

"It feels really good, I guess I'll be starting again next week. I still can't believe I just threw a complete game, it's still unreal to me."

Alabama trailed 3-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning but scored four runs to take a 6-3 lead. The rally was started by a pair of freshman as left fielder Brett Booth and right fielder Andrew Miller posted extra base hits off losing pitcher David Goforth.

Booth ripped a one-out triple off the left-center field wall and Miller followed with double down the right field line to tie the game at 3-3. Sophomore center fielder Taylor Dugas kept the inning alive with a two-out walk and then stole second to put runners at second and third.

"In the seventh I thought it was great to see the freshmen step up and (Booth) gets a triple then (Andrew) Miller gets the big hit to take the lead; then we just generated more offense from there," Gaspard added.

Junior shortstop Josh Rutledge, who had a clutch two-RBI single in Saturday's win, gave the Tide the lead with an infield single to score Miller and Dugas, who scored when Mississippi second baseman Alex Yarbrough threw the ball away after making a diving stop near second base.

Rutledge stole second base and junior second baseman Ross Wilson singled to center to plate Rutledge with the fourth run of the inning as UA took a 6-3 lead.

Kilcrease worked a perfect eighth and ninth inning to preserve the win. He retired the final nine batters he faced.

Mississippi snapped a scoreless tie with two runs in the fourth inning to take a 2-0 lead. Tim Ferguson reached on a two-out infield hit and scored when Zach Miller smacked a 2-2 pitch over the wall in left field to put the Rebels in front 2-0. It was Miller's second home run of the season.

Alabama plated two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to even the score at 2-2. Wilson singled through the left side of the infield to lead off the inning and scored on senior first baseman Clay Jones' double off the right-center field wall to cut the lead to 2-1.

Jones moved to third base on senior third baseman Jake Smith's ground out and scored on sophomore DH Jon Kelton's sacrifice fly to tie the game at 2-2.

Mississippi snapped the 2-2 tie with an unearned run in the top of the seventh inning to take a 3-2 lead. Ferguson led off the inning with a single and advanced to third base on a two-base error by Dugas. Ferguson scored on a ground out by Miller to give the Rebels a 3-2 lead.

Ferguson had two of the Rebels' five hits and scored two of the three runs. Miller had all three RBI.

Alabama out-hit Mississippi 9-5 in the win, with Rutledge, Wilson and Jones all recording two hits.

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