Crushing Blow

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Nobody was pulling harder for Brett Huber to close it out in the ninth than R.J. Hively. He was arguably the loudest among the players in the dugout to yell his support toward the mound.

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But still Alabama third baseman Brett Booth, with a tremendous at-bat with a man aboard and two outs and his team down a run, was able to left one over the left field wall to win it for Alabama 3-2. It was his only hit of the day.

Booth, with a 2-2 count when he hit it, kept battling at the plate until he won the game.

"Huber made five or six great pitches," said Booth, with several excellent plays during the game at his third base spot to keep the Rebels off the scoreboard. "I just kept fouling them off, just kept the at-bat going. He threw me a slider and he threw me the same pitch right before it. I hooked it foul. I was looking at fastball away (on the next pitch), and they came back with another slider in. I was expecting fastball and he threw the slider and I saw it up; he left it up. I just got a good swing off."

Hively, with an unearned run on four hits, eight strikeouts and no walks, had thrown 95 pitches through eight innings. Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco turned to his closer. Hively said there was no discussion, but he had faith in his teammate to finish it.

"No. As soon as I came off, he shook my hand," Hively said. "I mean, what are you going to do? Brett Huber is one of the best closers in the nation. I'm honored to be able to hand the ball off to him."

To compound the angst for the Rebels, Ole Miss had opportunities to build on its lead in the top of the ninth. Alex Yarbrough singled, and then two outs later, Andrew Mistone was intentionally walked. Will Jamison walked and the bases were loaded. But Zach Kirksey flied out to left field to end the Rebel threat and leave the lead at one run.

"A great pitched game by both sides," Bianco said. "Defended pretty well by both sides. Some great plays by their third baseman, our third baseman. (Auston Bousfield) made a nice play out in the outfield. We were able to put an inning together and score a couple of runs, and they were at the end able to put an inning together. Then (Booth) got the big home run."

Alabama got its first run in the third inning after Rebel shortstop Blake Newalu let a ball hit his way by Crimson Tide second baseman A.J. Cole go between his legs and under his glove for an error. Cole moved to second on a sac bunt, to third on a fly ball, and scored when catcher Ben Moore got a base hit.

Alex Yarbrough
Bruce Newman

Tide starter, a lefty freshman named Justin Kamplain, was unhittable for the Rebels – literally – until the top of the seventh when Yarbrough broke up the no-hitter with a base hit up the middle.

Yarbrough advanced to second on a ground out and scored on a Will Allen single. Allen stole second and scored on a Preston Overbey base hit.

Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard kept his starter in until the inning ended. He brought in Jay Shaw, a righty, who got the Rebels in order, and in the ninth Gaspard went with lefty Taylor Guilbeau to keep things where they were.

It looked like he might not be able to do that with bases loaded. But the Rebels couldn't get anything across.

Huber, with five saves already this season, got his first loss. Guilbeau with the win for Alabama is now 2-2.

Tomorrow at 1 p.m. it's sophomore RHP Mike Mayers (2-2, 3.34) for the Rebels and freshman LHP Jon Keller (0-0, 3.38) for the Crimson Tide.

Ole Miss has seen at least a couple of other games recently fall out of its grasp late, namely the Sunday game last weekend against Auburn, also a 3-2 loss. Bianco admitted after this one it's tough to take.

"It's frustrating," he said. "It hurts to be on this side of it. We were a pitch away from being on (the other) side of it."

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