A one-out RBI double in the top of the ninth by Emeel Salem lifted 22nd-ranked Alabama over 9th-ranked Ole Miss 5-4 in the first game of the three-game SEC series before 4,889 at Swayze Field.
Salem's double scored Rocky Scelfo who had walked off Rebel reliever Stephen Head and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Greg Paiml.
The Rebels got two runs in the sixth inning to lead 4-1, but a bases loaded double play to end the sixth halted what would have given Ole Miss even more cushion - which they ultimately needed in this one.
Alabama came out in the top of the seventh and got two runs to cut the Rebel lead to 4-3. In the top of the eighth, Gabe Scott tied the game with a first-pitch leadoff solo home run, his second solo shot of the contest. Head relieved starter Mark Holliman and got the next three Bama batters out.
After Ole Miss got nothing in the bottom of the eighth with Head and Brian Pettway striking out and Justin Henry grounding out, Head walked the leadoff batter - Scelfo - in the top of the ninth to set things up for the Crimson Tide to do some damage.
"We had them beat and we didn't play the last three innings," said Head of the fact that Alabama scored four runs in the last three frames and the Rebels failed to scratch. "Offensively we just haven't been getting it done lately."
The Rebels were outhit by Alabama 10-4 in the contest. Other than a solo homer by Pettway and a 2-run shot over the wall by Head, the two other Rebel hits were an RBI double by Mark Wright and a single by Pettway.
Mike Bianco said the loss rested on his shoulders.
"I blew it. I got greedy," said the fifth-year Rebel head coach. "I left Mark in one batter too long and it cost us."
Holliman, who went seven innings allowing four earned runs on nine hits with three walks and four strikeouts, said he wasn't at his best.
"I wasn't able to locate fast balls late in the game," he said. "I felt pretty good through the whole game, but it was a battle out there."
Ole Miss is now 21-9 overall and 5-5 in the SEC, while Alabama is 23-9 and 7-3. First pitch Saturday is at 4 p.m. LHP Matt Maloney (4-1, 0.98) will go for the Rebels, while LHP Brent Carter (4-2, 3.18) will go for the Tide.
"We need a good outing from Matt," Bianco said. "He's been our best pitcher to this point.
"What we've also got to do is our pitchers have to get tougher," he continued, "and offensively when we get a chance to extend the lead, we have to do that."
Both Head, who got the loss to fall to 5-2, and Bianco said they felt Head, who faced nine batters, could return to the mound this weekend if needed.
Rebs don't finish, Bama does and wins 5-4
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