Game Story By: Jeff Roberson
They came into the Sunday game with a split, but it appeared fairly early in the finale they would again have trouble crossing the plate.
There were some hits, and there were some runners. But no runs, and that’s all that matters.
It wasn’t until the fifth inning, after they trailed 1-0, that the Rebels got on the scoreboard. And then, in the bottom of the fifth, Alabama basically ended things with a six-run frame.
Starter Sean Johnson had gotten the Rebels to that point, but then things went south. Andy Pagnozzi gave up three runs and got just one out, Matt Denny allowed a run, Will Stokes an earned run, and the inning was a mess. By then, with the Rebels’ lack of production, the game was out of reach.
“We’ve been really good and probably the most consistent thing and the one thing we’ve been able to hang our hat on is the bullpen’s been excellent all year long,” Coach Mike Bianco said. “I thought Sean really competed and pitched out of jams and showed you what kind of competitor he is. We had Pags and of course we had Stokes and (Wyatt) Short waiting. We just couldn’t get off the field (in the fifth).”
“They were swinging the bat well that inning,” said reliever Chad Smith, who came into the game in the seventh, pitched one inning and allowed no runs. “They put some hits together, and that was basically it.”
It’s what Ole Miss was not able to do all weekend, yet still got one win.
“We swung the bats better this weekend than a few weeks ago,” Bianco said. “We just didn’t get the result. Tough weekend with the wind was blowing in, and knocked some balls down. That really hurts your chances with those extra base hits. (Colby) Bortles crushed a ball today to center field (Sunday). Yesterday J.B. (Woodman) did. On normal days those get out of here. Against a team that pitches as well as they do, you need those extra base hits or that homer. This weekend they were few and far between. But I thought we swung it OK; it wasn’t like we had tons of strikeouts and lot of bad at-bats. But you have to get that timely hit against a good pitching staff. You have to be able to put the innings together.”
So what’s next? They have a few hours, literally, to get things turned around. Tuesday night is a game at Memphis for the rainout makeup against the Tigers at Autozone Park. Then Murray State is in Oxford Wednesday night. Then three SEC games, also at home, against Auburn.
It’s a bit of a mystery team at times, although many followers would tell you it’s a poor hitting team, and for sure a poor scoring team. But only a week ago they wrapped up a three-game sweep of Arkansas with 39 hits and 29 runs. Yes, Arkansas isn’t the “Arkansas” we’re used to seeing, with a 4-11 SEC mark currently.
Five games this week will tell us more. Ole Miss beat Memphis earlier and the Tigers were at 12-23 Sunday. Murray State is 17-20. Auburn is 17-19 overall and 5-10 in the SEC.
This weekend the Rebels produced only three “earned” runs in 27 innings. That won’t win many SEC series. They were a bit fortunate to have one win since that’s the case.
Alabama pitching is good. They only allow four and a half runs a game in league play. You can win some games that way and the Tide is.
Alabama passed the Rebels in the SEC standings at 8-7 and Ole Miss is 7-8. Overall the Tide is now 22-15 and the Rebels 26-10.
Home mattered last weekend. Perhaps it will again. The Rebels have three of their next four series at home – Auburn, LSU, both in Oxford, at Georgia, and Kentucky at home. Then they wind up at Texas A&M, which looks like it may be the class of the SEC West.