Trailing by one in the top of the ninth, the No. 15 Rebels loaded the bases with one out and sent Cody Overbeck to the plate with Matt Smith waiting on deck. Up first was a junior trying to save both the series opener and his 24-game hitting streak. If he failed, a freshman with experience in the clutch would also get a shot. It was the sort of situation that could cure the current sizable slide that has engulfed Ole Miss (15-10, 3-4).
Instead, Overbeck popped up foul, Smith softly grounded out and the Rebels' losing streak ran to four, as Alabama (14-11, 3-4) fought back from an early deficit to escape with a 6-5 victory in front of an announced attendance of 4,828.
Crimson Tide reliever Josh Copeland picked up the victory with 2.2 innings of shutout relief and fired a fist pump signaling satisfaction when the final out was recorded. Ole Miss stranded eight base runners, including seven in the last three innings.
The Rebels put two runners in scoring position in the eighth with one out and the three in the ninth with just a single man retired, but zero quality at-bats followed either of the advantageous states. Consecutive strikeouts by Tim Ferguson and Sean Stuyverson ended the eighth, and the two weak putouts finalized the outcome.
"We had the opportunities, but it was just really poor at-bats," Mike Bianco said. "It was the guy (Overbeck) you want up with the bases loaded, but it can't be Cody Overbeck everyday.
"We are still waiting on someone to step up and make the big play."
Alabama's Matt Bentley made the big plays for the Tide with two home runs, including an eighth-inning solo blast off Scott Bittle to break a 5-5 deadlock. Bittle struck out five of the six batters he faced in two innings, but Bentley made the one bad pitch prove costly.
"It is a shame and disappointing," Bianco said. "You can't ask for more than that. It is just unbelievable."
Lance Lynn received a no-decision for the second straight week, after exiting in the sixth inning and allowing five earned runs. It was his worst outing so far this season after appearing to be on cruise control early. Lynn retired the first nine hitters but Alabama struck for five runs in the middle three innings. The junior punched out nine, scattered six hits and walked two.
"I couldn't locate my offspeed, and they made me pay for it the second time around," Lynn said. "I had to rely on the fastball too much."
Alabama starter Austin Hyatt surrendered five runs as well in 6.1 innings and retired 13 straight Rebels at one point.
"We took off the pressure and let our innings roll by too easy there at one point," Bianco said.
Ole Miss took a 3-0 lead after two innings on a RBI single from Smith and a two-run home run by Stuyverson.
Trailing 5-3 in the seventh, the Rebels tied it with a fielder's choice by Jordan Henry and a clutch two-out single from pinch hitter Cullan Kight. Kight has three hits in his last four at-bats off the bench.
Ole Miss will try to even the series Saturday at 4 p.m. Freshman Drew Pomeranz will make his first SEC start for the Rebels.
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