TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Maybe it's a sign of just how this season is unfolding. Ole Miss got a good starting pitching performance from Lance Lynn until a blister on the ball of his foot that bled forced him to leave Sunday's game in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Ole Miss, which lost 9-2 to get swept, was up 2-1 at the time with two Crimson Tide runners on base after a walk and a hit by pitch. Maybe Lynn had already started to struggle or tire. Either way, he came out of the game and was relieved by Tommy Baumgarder, who prevented further damage. At least in that inning.
Baumgardner, the former weekend starter back to a relief role like last season, wasn't as effective in the bottom of the seventh and gave way to Craig Rodriguez.
With one out in that seventh, Baumgardner walked the next batter and gave up a single after that. When Matt Downs bunted safely, the bases were loaded. Evan Bush followed with a two RBI double to the left field wall to give Alabama its first lead, an advantage the Crimson Tide wouldn't relinquish.
After Kody Valverde was intentionally walked, Rodriguez came in and got Alex Avila to fly out to center. But a run scored to make it 4-2 Bama and the Tide wasn't quite through scoring just yet. Ryan Rhoden reached on a high throw by Rebel shortstop Zack Cozart to first base, allowing Bush to score. But an alert C.J. Ketchum threw to Justin Brashear to get Valverde at the plate.
But down 5-2, the Rebels couldn't produce anything offensively over the next two innings to bounce back. That was especially tough after Bama added four more runs in the bottom of the eighth for the seven-run lead.
The Rebels led all three games early and were up 2-0 in the third inning Sunday on a two-run home run over the right field wall by Justin Brashear. However, heading into the top of the ninth, Ole Miss had just four hits (ended the day with only six) and couldn't find an answer for freshman right-hander Tommy Hunter, like Lynn an Indiana native who pitched on the same team with Lynn in summer baseball.
Hunter pitched a complete game, nine innings, two earned runs, six hits, one walk, seven strikeouts, facing 33 Rebel batters and moving to 4-2 on the season.
Baumgardner was saddled with the loss, falling to 2-4 on the season.
The Rebels, who hadn't been swept since losing all three games at Georgia two years ago, used five pitchers on the day - Stoney Stone and Jesse Simpson in addition to Lynn, Baumgardner, and Rodriguez.
Zack Cozart went 2-for-4 on the day, the only Rebel with more than one hit.
"I threw the ball well for the most part, and other than the one inning (sixth) where I had some trouble, I felt good," said Lynn, gave up one earned run on five hits with three strikeouts and four walks. "Coming into today I wanted to put up some zeroes and give our hitters a chance to get going."
Lynn was audibly and visibly pumped up after the bottom of the first when the Crimson Tide didn't score after having a baserunner. At that point and into the sixth, he said he was doing what he could to help his team win.
"In the past I've always been emotional, just trying to be fired up," Lynn said. "I haven't been that pitcher lately. I tried to go back to doing what I do best. It's just a tough loss for us today."
Ole Miss Coach Mike Bianco, whose team fell to 13-11 overall and 1-5 in Southeastern Conference play, said the Rebels have to improve in every area.
"We need to do everything better," he said. "Defensively and base-running have really been the only bright spots lately. We scored two runs on Sunday. Last week in game three we don't score any runs. You have to score more runs against the other team's No. 3 pitcher. We got good starting pitching today, and it's hard to ask more than that, to give up only one run into the sixth inning on Sunday. But once again the bullpen can't hold them. It's difficult to be where we are right now."
Ole Miss hosts Southern Mississippi at 6:30 p.m. in Oxford Tuesday night. Brett Bukvich (3-2, 2.39 ERA) will start on the mound for the Rebels.
Alabama wins 9-2 Sunday to sweep Rebels
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