Zack's Back! Rebs Blast Bama behind Shortstop

A highly awaited offensive explosion finally erupted on Sunday with a 15-9 win over No. 25 Alabama (17-10, 3-3) that was fueled by a 5-5 and slump-busting day from All-America selection Zack Cozart.

No. 13 Ole Miss (18-8, 3-3) raked Tide pitching with two five-run innings and took the series from Alabama for the first time since 2004 on the strength of 20 hits. Every Rebel run on the day was earned.

Cozart elevated his batting average 36 points in a span of four hours up to .307 by coming just a triple short of the cycle and being a part of eight Ole Miss runs with four RBI and scoring four times.

"It's just one of those days where I felt good at the plate," Cozart said. "Everything I was seeing looked like a beach ball. You have to give credit to their team though, we scored 15 runs and they scored nine, but they didn't quit. I am just happy to win a series against Alabama, that's for the first time since I have been here that we have did that. I am happy for the team."

Next to Cozart, Logan Power was the main culprit punishing four Alabama hurlers as he secured three hits, three runs and three RBI. He was also a triple from the cycle.

"We had a great day at the plate," Power said. "Our pitchers couldn't ask for anything else, just going in there and throwing strikes, but it was just one of those offensive days and we just pulled it out."

As great as Saturday's starters were, the pitchers in the finale didn't follow suit.

Neither starter made it through the third with Tide starter Casey Kebodeaux (2-2) not retiring an out in the second inning before giving way to Will Stroup. Brett Bukvich opened for the Rebels, but a three-run Alabama third ended his day.

Justin Cryer (1-0) relieved Bukvich and earned his first career win with 2.1 innings of work where he allowed three runs on three hits. Nearly every inning was an adventure, but Cryer, Nathan Baker and Craig Rodriguez worked out of the pen to preserve the win.

"It was just an offensive afternoon," Cozart said. "To tell the truth, our pitchers, I don't want to say struggled, but they didn't do as well as they normally do. Usually they are the ones keeping us in the game because we haven't hit well, but for us to come out here and put runs up so the pitchers can have an easy day makes us excited."

Rounding out the three-hit club was Andrew Clark with three singles, a run and an RBI. Every starter punched in at least one hit for Ole Miss.

The Rebels' early and often onslaught began in the first frame with five runs highlighted by three straight hits from C.J. Ketchum, Power and Fuller Smith. Three more in the second buried Bama in an early 8-0 deficit.

Alabama scored multiple runs in three innings, but Ole Miss found a way to keep pace and answer each time.

"Important as it was to get ahead, it was just as important to keep scoring," head coach Mike Bianco said. "You look at the scoreboard, and they battled like you know a Jim Wells coached team will, but we were able to answer each time. Maybe not to the same level but something to keep the momentum."

Single runs aided Ole Miss in the third and the sixth before a five-run seventh inning removed most doubt. Alabama had cut the lead to two, but Cozart's three-run home run put an exclamation point on the affair.

Also in the wild seventh, Tide coach Jim Wells was tossed for arguing balls and strikes. The Alabama hitting coach was ejected an inning earlier.

Ole Miss moves to .500 in SEC play and has a busy week culminating with a conference road trip to Auburn over the weekend. The Tigers have lost 16 straight SEC contests with the last win coming last year against Alabama.

"We haven't gotten off to the best start, but the tough schedule will help us," Bianco said. "We have lost games in a variety of ways, offensively, defensively, and pitching, but we are playing I think our 16th ranked opponent. The good news is we haven't played our best baseball yet.

The Rebels travel to Trustmark Park in Pearl for a showdown with in-state rival Southern Miss. on Tuesday. Game time is 6:30 p.m., and Baker will start for Ole Miss.

Zach Miller is diagnosed with a pulled hamstring and is most likely inactive Tuesday.

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