Alabama went on the road to Oxford this weekend to play Ole Miss sitting pretty with an 8-4 SEC record, but came home not sitting quite as pretty after being swept. The Tide's overall record is now 22-16 and 8-7 in the SEC.
In Friday's first game Ole Miss pitchers Bobby Wahl and Aaron Greenwood baffled Crimson Tide hitters all night, holding Alabama to only two hits in a 6-0 Rebel victory. 'Bama also reached base on five walks, a hit by pitch and one error, but could not come through with clutch hits to score runs. Oxford native Charley Sullivan started for 'Bama and as much as he wanted to could not secure a victory against his home town school. Sullivan pitched three innings allowing four runs on five hits. This was the first sub-par performance for Sullivan this season. Taylor Guilbeau relieved in the fourth and pitched 4 and 1/3 very solid innings, allowing one hit and one run. Keaton Haack pitched the final 2/3 of an inning and allowed a home run to give the Rebel's their final run. The Tide, in what would become a pattern in the series, left nine runners on base.
'Bama stranded two in the third, two in the fourth, three in the sixty and one in the eighth and ninth. The Tide's best chance to score was in the fourth when Brett Booth walked and Kyle Overstreet doubled, both with one out. Austen Smith lined a drive up to middle that Wahl blindly stabbed and threw to first for the out. Cameron Carlisle then struck out to end the threat. In the sixth with the bases loaded and one out Smith and Carlisle popped out to squelch that rally. Mikey White tallied the teams only other hit on an eighth inning single. Defensively Booth threw out another base runner attempting to steal, Miller made a diving catch in left and Overstreet continued to amaze at second base, making every play, no matter how difficult, look simple.
Saturday saw a record crowd of almost 12,000 at Swayze Field to see 'Bama's Justin Kamplain battle Ole Miss's Mike Mayers. Kamplain more than held his own in his first start of the year, pitching 5 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on two hits and four walks. Tucker Hawley faced one batter, who walked, and was replaced by Jon Keller. Keller was tagged with the loss after pitching 2 and 1/3 inning allowing two hits, four walks, and three un-earned runs.
Ole Miss scored two in the sixth on one hit, four walks, and a sacrifice bunt. 'Bama bounced back with their first runs of the weekend in the seventh. Kenny Roberts and Ben Moore lead off with singles, and advanced 90 feet on Booth's fly ball to right. Overstreet singled to score Roberts, and White reached on the catcher's error after striking out, Miller drew a bases loaded pass to score Moore. The Rebel's broke the tie in the eighth scoring three times. After a leadoff walk and error the home squad broke through with two two out RBI singles by their eighth and ninth batters. The first five batters in the Tide's order, Salem, Roberts, Moore, Booth and Overstreet collected the only hits for the team. 'Bama left six runners on base. Booth threw out two more runners attempting to steal.
On a cool, windy day Sunday, with by far the smallest crowd of the weekend, the Tide had their best chance at victory, taking an eighth inning lead, before losing 4-3 in an 11 inning thriller. 'Bama sent Spencer Turnbull and his 29 and 2/3 inning scoreless streak to the hill in the series finale. The streak would go no further, as the first two Rebel batters scored. Tanner Mathis walked, and advanced to third on a perfectly placed Auston Bousfield hit and run single. Austin Anderson singled in the next run, before also being erased by Booth on an attempted steal. Turnbull settled down and pitched six complete innings allowing six hits, four walks and just the two runs. Ray Castillo relieved in the seventh and pitched the rest of the way, going further than he has all season. Castillo pitched four and 1/3 innings and allowed six hits, and two runs, to receive his first loss of the season.
'Bama battled back to score once in the seventh and twice in the eighth to take their only lead of the series. In the seventh, Miller led off with a double, followed by a Salem single and a Roberts RBI ground out. In the eighth Booth dove into first to avoid a tag and reach on an error. Overstreet singled and Miller hit a bases loaded sacrifice fly to tie the score. Freshman Chance Vincent then lined a single up to middle to give the Tide the lead. Ole Miss tied the score in the bottom half on two walks and two hits. The Rebel's pushed the winning run across in the 11th on a bases loaded one out single by Mathis.
The Tide collected 10 hits and drew five walks in the game, leaving 13 runners on base, eight of those in scoring position. Smith lead the way with three hits, and Salem and Roberts had two each. Overstreet, Miller and Vincent had the other Tide safeties. Booth continued his amazing season by throwing out two more base runners, and has now thrown out 27 on the season in addition to three more runners picked off base. Overstreet pushed the game into extra innings on an amazing stop and flip to second to end the ninth inning. Overstreet and White also turned the team's 37th double play of the season.
Getting swept is never pretty, and you have to look long and hard to find many bright spots in this weekend's performance. Overall the pitching and defense were adequate to good. Guilbeau and Turnbull turned in quality outings. Castillo was stretched much further than he typically is. Overstreet, Salem, Booth and Miller were standouts defensively. Smith made several scoops of throws at first base. Roberts, Salem, Oversteet, and Smith had three hits each on the weekend. Miller and Vincent contributed some good at bats, albeit not with much to show for them.
The team's batting average now stands at .247, and the ERA is 2.97. That team ERA will help you win a lot of games, but the batting average will not. Salem leads the team with a .290 average. Overstreet took over the team RBI lead with 25, and his second in average at .274, followed closely by Booth and Moore at .272 and .271, respectively. Turnbull and Hawley each have four wins and Castillo has six saves to lead in those categories.
This week's schedule features Tuesday's rematch against UAB at 6:05 at The Joe. UAB beat the Tide in Hoover on March 26th 1-0. Second ranked LSU comes to town for the weekend series. Friday first pitch is 6:35 p.m., Saturday's is at 7:05 p.m. and Sunday's is at 1:05 p.m. All times are CST. Saturday's game will be televised.
With A Day weekend and a big nationally ranked team coming to town 'Bama can expect a large, boisterous crowd for the weekend. Simply put this team deserves and could use some help from the home crowd. After playing in front of large, loud crowds on the road, it would be nice for the Tide to experience the same atmosphere at home.
Bama Baseball Fever...Catch It!