Playing in a school record ninth extra inning game, 'Bama took a 7-5 10th inning victory over Ole Miss on Thursday, eliminating the Rebels from the SEC tournament. Alabama is now 3-6 in extra inning games, and extracted some measure of revenge after being swept, and losing two extra inning affairs, to Ole Miss in Oxford last month.
Once again the Tide had to battle back from an early inning deficit, after falling behind 3-0 in the second inning. Spencer Turnbull started on the mound for 'Bama, and after an easy three up and three down first inning, he ran into trouble in the second. Andrew Mistrone lead off with a double and after two were out, was doubled in by Preston Overby. Christian Helsel walked and both runners scored on Will Jamison's single and a throwing error.
Ole Miss started seldom used Jacob Waguespack on the mound and he began the game by pitching three perfect innings. However 'Bama caught up to him in the fourth and cut the lead to 3-2. Kenny Roberts became the Tide's first base runner by walking, followed by a Georgie Salem single. Roberts advanced to third on Kyle Overstreet's fly ball to right, and then scored on Ben Moore's sacrifice fly to center field. With two outs Mikey White singled on a hit and run and the speedy Salem motored all the way around to score.
Turnbull settled in and pitched scoreless innings in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings. 'Bama finally tied the game up in the fourth when Chance Vincent singled, followed by another Salem single. Overstreet then lined yet another single to score Vincent, and tie the score. Alabama seized the lead in the sixth. White reached on an error, and scored when Austen Smith ripped a triple in the right center gap. Brett Booth's ground out scored Smith, giving the Tide a 5-3 lead.
Turnbull got the first two outs in the seventh quickly before running into trouble. The two outs were followed by three straight walks, loading the bases, and brining little used freshman Mitch Greer out of the bull pen. Greer allowed a two run single to Ole Miss leading hitter Stuart Turner to tie the score before recording the final out of the inning.
Alabama went out in order in the eighth, and when Greer walked the Rebel's leadoff hitter, Tucker Hawley was summoned from the Tide bull pen. Ole Miss sacrificed the runner to second and pinch hitter Will Allen lined a shot down the third base line. Roberts snared the drive and threw to first to double off the runner and end the inning.
Hawley allowed an infield single leading off the bottom of the ninth to Jamison, who advanced to third and was stranded there. 'Bama set up the winning rally in the 10th by having Oversteet draw a one out walk. Daniel Cucjen pinch ran for Overstreet, and advanced to third when Moore lined a double over the third base bag. Mikey White drilled a two strike pitch into center field to score both and put the Tide ahead by their winning margin of 7-5.
Hawley allowed a meaningless one out single in the bottom of the 10th before retiring the last two hitters to seal the win. With the victory Hawley tied the for the team lead in wins (with his roommate Charley Sullivan) with five. Typically with a lead going into the last inning Coach Mitch Gaspard would call on freshman closer Ray Castillo. However Castillo appears to be un available for the remainder of the tournament. The Russell County product has some shoulder discomfort and rest and treatment have been prescribed. By all appearances Castillo should be available for NCAA Regional play next week.
White lead the way offensively with his 2-5 day with three RBI's, including the game winner. Salem also added two hits. Overstreet, Moore, Smith and Vincent all had one hit apiece. Despite allowing nine walks the pitching was good enough to get the job done, and Hawley was outstanding in his three inning stint.
Alabama now has a record of 34-25 on the season. Ole Miss falls to 37-22 and also should be a lock for the NCAA Tournament.
After Sullivan saved the bull pen in Wednesday's loss to LSU, and Turnbull eating some important innings, 'Bama's pitching should be in decent shape, besides the huge loss of Castillo and his 11 saves. Taylor Guilbeau, Jon Keller, Mike Oczypok, Taylor Wolfe, Keaton Haack and Trey Pilkington have all not thrown at all this week. Tuesday's hero Jay Shaw says he will also be ready to go again. Greer will be available also.
Alabama will face the loser of the Arkansas-LSU game that is scheduled to being late this afternoon, 30 minutes after the Vanderbilt-South Carolina ends. Vandy and USC are currently tied in extra innings as this story is being written.
The Tide was able to defeat both LSU and Arkansas once this year in the regular season, so they will not be intimidated by the chore. The best guess would be for Guilbeau to draw the starting assignment, but don't be surprised if some one else gets the nod.
The game will be at 3:00 p.m. on Friday at The Hoover Met. This scrappy bunch deserves fan support, so please come out, or follow me on twitter at @rogerpatmyers for inning by inning updates.
Bama Baseball Fever, if you havent caught it, you are doing it wrong!
Roll Tide Y'all Roger