Late-inning letdown dooms Rebels

Through seven innings the No. 13 Rebels (16-8, 1-3 SEC) were cruising and the capacity crowd of 5,683 was electric with activity; then the eighth inning began.

Ole Miss pitchers suffered through a 46-pitch frame where No. 25 Alabama (17-8, 3-1) plated five runs and opened the floodgates for an 8-5 victory at Oxford-University Stadium Swayze Field.

Will Kline (3-1) delivered another sterling Friday night effort before loading the bases in the seventh and closer Scott Bittle entered to walk two batters with the bases loaded to tie the contest and a sharp single by Brandon Belcher provided the winning margin. The runners on were property of Kline to tag the Tupelo product the loser with a final line of 7.1 innings of work where he allowed six runs on six hits.

"It's disappointing. Going out there (in the eighth) I felt confident," Kline said. "I didn't make the right pitches to (Emeel) Salem and he ended up getting a hit. It all went downhill from there."

Salem singled up the middle to begin the eighth inning onslaught.

The night appeared to be all-Ole Miss as the Rebels finished the bottom of the seventh with a three-run advantage thanks to multiple hits from each Henry brother and an RBI from the 3-5 spots in the order (Zack Cozart, Cody Overbeck and C.J. Ketchum).

Ole Miss rattled starter Miers Quigley with two runs in the first and another in the second, but the Bama starter settled down and held the Rebels to only one more run in 4.2 innings of work.

"It's frustrating however you lose," head coach Mike Bianco said. "It was tough because we thought we could get to Quigley early, but we weren't able to mount anything. He was able to do what you are supposed to do on a Friday night. He hung in there and ate up innings and withstood the pressure. He kept going and got deep in the game."

Tide reliever Josh Copeland (1-2) faced one batter in the seventh to pick up the win, and ace Tommy Hunter dusted off the Rebels in the last two innings for his second save of the year.

"We just have to come through and make plays and pitches," second baseman Zach Miller said. "It was our fault as a team. We didn't get the hits and make plays when we needed them. We need to bounce back and get a win tomorrow and Sunday."

Speed was again the chosen way to get ahead with Ole Miss taking the lead early thanks to Justin Henry and Jordan Henry. Jordan led off the game with an infield single, and Justin bunted a ball down the line for another single. A wild pitch and two groundouts later, the Rebels led 2-0.

The third run was pushed across an inning later when Brett Basham doubled and was brought home on a sharp single by Jordan Henry.

Alabama lit up the scoreboard in the third thanks to back to back extra base hits from Belcher and Greg Paiml. Belcher lined a solo shot over the right-center wall, and Paiml doubled before being driven in on a ground ball.

Ole Miss scored its final two runs in the sixth and seventh innings respectively. Overbeck answered Bama's home run with one of his own in the sixth and Miller crossed the plate in the seventh thanks to a wild pitch.

Kline's night turned ugly in one inning, and the right-hander commented on his worse outing of the season, although it was still solid.

"I wasn't throwing the ball anywhere I wanted," Kline said. "It is just bad and disappointing at the same time. I was a little fatigued after throwing a good many pitches on a hot night, but we had a chance to win but couldn't pull it through.

"The loss isn't a major concern. I have been playing baseball my whole life. You have to learn how to drop it and come out tomorrow."

Bianco had another opinion on the subject.

"It is no doubt a concern because you can't give away games," Bianco said. "I tip my hat and not to take anything away from Alabama in a sense that they did a great job, but this is a game that we feel like we should have won. We need to do a better job of closing it out. It is about extending the lead and winning games. And that's not what we are doing right now."

Ole Miss and Alabama continue their series Saturday at 1 p.m. with reigning Natioanl Pitcher of the Week Lance Lynn (2-2) hurling for the Rebels while being opposed by Bernard Robert (3-3)

OM Spirit Top Stories