Peanut Gallery

HOOVER, Ala. - Ole Miss swung early and often against Alabama starter, Nathan Kilcrease, aptly nicknamed "Peanut" for his small stature. But the result, as it's been for the majority of May, was few hits and runs.

Kilcrease worked 8.1 innings of three-run baseball, had a string of 17 batters in a row retired and used 110 pitches to stymie Ole Miss, 6-3, in the second round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament Thursday afternoon.

The game, aided again by a sputtering opposing offense that totaled only nine hits, marked the second consecutive strong start for Kilcrease against Ole Miss. The pint-sized right-hander threw a complete-game, 6-3 win in Tuscaloosa May 16.

"A pitcher's a pitcher, honestly. Whether he's 6-5 or 5-5, you still got to hit," said junior right fielder Matt Smith, who was 3-for-4 with two runs scored. "He's basically the same pitcher he was last time; he lives away. As a hitter, it isn't going to be pretty."

Senior right-hander Aaron Barrett was saddled with the loss, his fourth of the year, as the Rebels (37-21) move to the losers' side of the bracket, and will meet Auburn Friday at 3 p.m.

Barrett pitched 6.0 innings, allowed four runs on nine hits, while striking out five and walking four.

"Not really," Barrett said when asked if there was any added pressure on the mound with a struggling offense behind him. "My job is to go out there and make pitches and control what I can control. That's what I tried to do out there."

Ole Miss threatened in the bottom of the first inning, when Matt Snyder and Smith notched back-to-back singles with two outs. However, David Phillips grounded out to second base to end the inning.

Mike Bianco

Kilcrease, with a comfortable, 4-0 lead, cruised until the bottom of the seventh. Smith, with one out, roped a double (the first Ole Miss hit since the first inning) into the right-center gap, before an RBI-single from Phillips to right field.

Miles Hamblin added the Rebels' second run with a solo home run, his second in as many days, an inning later.

"Obviously, you have to credit Alabama," Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said. "They just played better than we did tonight. I thought Kilcrease was very tough, similar to the way he was a couple of weeks ago."

Alabama (36-21) broke a scoreless tie with two outs in the top of the fifth inning.

Barrett issued his third walk to Crimson Tide leadoff man, Taylor Dugas, who promptly stole second base. Josh Rutledge drove him in on a ringing single to left field for a 1-0 lead.

The Crimson Tide pushed further ahead in the sixth, as former Rebel, David Kindred, led off the inning with a generously-ruled infield single. Jon Kelton plated another on a run-scoring triple, followed by a Brock Bennett safety squeeze.

Three more runners crossed the plate in the seventh and eighth innings.

"This is the feeling you want this time of year," Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "The confidence is dripping off this team."

Ole Miss mounted somewhat of a ninth-inning rally after Smith led off with a single, and scored on a one-out, RBI-single by Alex Yarbrough.

But Jake Smith, who started the game at third base for Alabama, shut the door for his fourth save of the season, retiring Miles Hamblin and Kevin Mort with Taylor Hashman, who had singled, standing on second base.

"Now we have to come out and play Auburn, a team we, honestly, didn't play well against at home," Bianco said. "It's a chance to kind of redeem yourself and play a little bit better."

Random Notes:

Ole Miss left six men on base, compared to 11 for Alabama… The Crimson Tide are riding a seven-game win streak… Kindred, who spent two seasons at Ole Miss, was 1-for-4 with a run scored… Rory McKean and Eric Callender combined to pitch three innings of relief, allowing two runs, both charged to McKean… Ole Miss sophomore RHP, David Goforth, will take the mound against the Tigers.

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