Beating Back the Brooms

TUSCALOOSA, Ala – When mathematically looking at an SEC weekend, there are four results that can occur after every fully completed series. However, only three are options entertained by schools with division title aspirations. Being swept isn't in the vocabulary.

No. 15 Ole Miss (16-11, 4-5) was inches away from the dreaded winless weekend, but Fuller Smith sparked the Rebels with a defensive gem in the eighth inning and contributed soon after with the bat, as the visitors gathered themselves and pulled off a 2-1 victory in extra innings Sunday afternoon.

The contest was scheduled for seven innings due to a rain delay Saturday that pushed the conclusion of the series' second game until Sunday. Alabama (15-12, 4-5) took that one 5-3 in come-from-behind fashion. After the Sunday split, Ole Miss, Alabama and Auburn all share the Western Division lead at 4-5.

The win broke a five-game losing streak and a four-game SEC skid for Ole Miss.

"You can't get swept in our league," Mike Bianco said. "That three-game swing is tough to make up. We have lost back-to-back weekends and are still tied with them (Alabama). Getting swept is like losing two games."

The Rebels avoided that outcome in the eighth when Smith came through with two outs and the game tied at one in extras.

The Tide put the winning run at second base, but Smith fully extended with two outs and made a spectacular diving play to prolong the game.

Jeff Texada started the inning with a pinch-hit single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. He was stranded 180 feet away after a fly ball to right field and Smith's catch in left.

Smith played a role in the winning run coming across a half-inning later, with a sacrifice bunt to set up Logan Power, who used his only hit of the day to score Zach Miller from third and take the lead. Miller was hit by a pitch to start the inning and moved over on a walk to Brett Basham.

"When you want to compete in this league, you can't get swept," Smith said. "It (the catch) was a big time play for a big time game. I think it energized us and helped out with momentum for that second run."

Justin Cryer (2-3) picked up the win with 2.1 innings of relief work, taking over for Cody Satterwhite, who held down Alabama with 6.2 innings in the start, allowing one run with seven strikeouts and five walks.

The bottom of the ninth became interesting when Kent Matthes tripled with two outs, but Tim Ferguson backhanded a groundball in the six hole and threw across to seal the game.

Ferguson, Miller and Matt Smith all finished with two hits for the Rebels.

Ole Miss' only run in regulation came when Fuller Smith led off the game with a single and scored on an RBI base hit by Michael Guerrero.

Satterwhite surrendered just two hits and kept Alabama at bay with a fastball that displayed late movement, and the junior was able to locate his curveball and change-up. It was a welcome sign for an offense that has scored only five runs in the last 42.1 innings on Sundays dating back to the TCU series.

Satterwhite left in the sixth with a blister that popped on his throwing hand.

"Cody changed speeds and really located the fastball down when necessary," Bianco said. "It was a great effort in a game we had to have."

Tide starter Robert Phares went eight strong, suffering two runs allowed on nine hits. Reliever Josh Copeland, who received the win Friday and a save earlier Sunday took the loss for the Tide with one inning and the one hit that scored the run charged to Phares.

Alabama's lone run in regulation scored without a Tide hit, as two walks, a sacrifice bunt and a groundout knotted the game at one apiece. Matt Bentley and Kent Matthes walked before Tyler Odle moved them over and Ryan Rhoden picked up the RBI with a roller to short.

The second inning zapped momentum from the Rebels when two hits to start the inning failed to push across any runs. Ferguson sent a sharp line drive through the infield to start, and Zach Miller sent him to third on a base knock of his own.

Brett Basham laid down a bunt in an effort to safety squeeze, but Alabama catcher Mike Sharp blocked the plate, took the throw home and tagged out Ferguson for the first out of the inning.

Ole Miss returns to action with a home-and-home two-game set with Memphis. The Rebels play the Tigers at Autozone Park Tuesday and in Oxford Wednesday.

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