The Crimson Tide hosted the Ole Miss Rebels in a must win situation this weekend, and used outstanding pitching to claim the series two games to one. The Tide lost Friday by a score of 4-0 before bouncing back to win the next two games by scores of 2-0 and 7-2. 'Bama improved to 22-14 overall and 8-7 in SEC play, while the eighth ranked Rebels fell to 26-10 overall and 7-8 in conference. Alabama starters, Geoffrey Bramblett, Jake Walters and Nick Eicholtz all had outstanding starts, and the bull pen was stellar as well.
Game One: Lost 4-0
Alabama's Geoffrey Bramblett and Ole Miss's Brady Bramblett locked up in a classic pitching duel on Friday night, but Bramlett got a little more support and the Rebels prevailed by a score of 4-0, in a game that was much closer than the score indicated.
The Rebels got the only run they would need in the third inning, scoring an unearned run on a throwing error on a double play ball. Bramblett pitched seven full innings, allowing only two hits with three walks and eight strikeouts, and only the one unearned run. Bramblett pitched six innings of three hit ball, while walking three and striking out six. Will Stokes threw one inning, allowing a hit, and Wyatt Short tossed the final two innings in perfect fashion and earned his sixth save.
The Tide squandered several chances to even the game up, with the most glaring being in the seventh when they loaded the bases with one out, but were unable to push a run across, ending the inning with two straight strikeouts. Clinging to a 1-0 lead, Ole Miss roughed up Matt Foster in the ninth for three runs on two doubles and a single.
'Bama was only able to connect for four hits, two by Chandler Avant and one each by Chance Vincent and Georgie Salem. His second inning single gave Salem a six game hitting streak. The Rebels only collected five hits, with three of them being in the ninth inning. Bramblett was the winner, giving him a 6-2 record and Bramblett was accorded the loss, and fell to 3-2 on the year.
Game Two: Won 2-0
The Tide rode starting pitcher Jake Walters and All American closer Thomas Burrows to a tight 2-0 victory in game two played on Saturday at 5:00 p.m. 'Bama scored once in the fifth and once in the eighth and held on for the victory.
Walters was brilliant, throwing seven innings, allowing only four hits with one walk and four strikeouts. Burrows pitched the last two innings, allowing one hit and striking out two. David Parkinson absorbed the loss for the Rebels, despite allowing only one run on six hits in seven full innings.
'Bama got the only run they would need in the fifth when Georgie Salem ran his hitting streak to seven games with a single. The speedy center fielder then stole second and scored on a single by Cobie Vance. In the eighth the Tide was able to add an insurance run when Chandler Avant doubled and then scored on a hard hit ball by Connor Short that the second baseman couldn't handle.
Burrows, who has let to allow a run in 11 appearances covering 14.1 innings this season, allowed a lead off double in the ninth to Ryan Olenek. A Tate Blackman ground out advanced Olenek to third with only one out, and it looked as if the scoreless streak for Burrows was in danger. The hard throwing lefty then struck out Colby Bortles and induced a pop out by Henri Lartigue to end the game with the Tide on top by a score of 2-0.
The Tide out hit the Rebels seven to five, while also drawing four walks. Walters and Burrows only walked one combined, and notched six strikeouts together. The win gave Walters a record of 3-3 and the save was the ninth in nine chances for Burrows, setting up the rubber game of the series on Sunday.
Game Three: Won 7-2
Badly in need of a series win after losing the last two series on the road, the Tide turned to Nick Eicholtz to try and secure game three. Eicholtz proved to be up to the task, pitching six outstanding innings, allowing six hits with two walks and only one run. Dylan Durate relieved and recorded the rare three inning save, his second save of the season.
The offensively challenged Tide got on the board first, scoring once in the second, and blew the game open with a six spot in the fifth inning on six hits. In the second Georgie Salem singled, giving him an eight game hitting streak, and scored on a fielders choice ground ball by Hunter Webb. Ole Miss used two walks, and infield single and a sacrifice fly to tie things up in the fifth, before 'Bama exploded in the bottom of the fifth.
'Bama sent 10 men to the plate, blasting out six hits, including three doubles in the frame to take control of the game, and the series. The big blows were a two run doubles by Chandler Avant and Chance Vincent, an RBI double by Cody Henry, and an RBI single from Connor Short.
Durate relieved Eicholtz to start the seventh, and allowed only a garbage run in the top of the ninth after two Rebel hits. Eicholtz improved to 3-1 on the season, while the second of six Rebel pitchers, Andy Pagnozzi, was the loser, and now has a 5-2 record.
The Tide out hit the Rebels 11-9 on the game, and also drew seven walks to only two for OM. Cobie Vance paced the offense with three hits, while Avant and Short added two apiece. Avant and Vincent both drove in two runs in the game.
The Tide got a much needed series win and find themselves right in the middle of the pack of the SEC with their 8-7 conference mark. The pitching was absolutely outstanding but other than Sunday, the offense continues to struggle. For the weekend the team was 22-92 for a .239 average, just under their .242 season average. Chandler Avant continued his hot hitting, going 5-13 with three doubles. Cobie Vance was 4-13 and Georgie Salem continues to dig out of his early season doldrums, and was 3-10 while stretching his hitting streak to eight games.
Geoffrey Bramblett, Jake Walters and Nick Eicholtz all pitched lights out in their starting roles. Durate was very good in pitching Friday and Sunday, and Burrows is Burrows, Mr AutoMatic, who has yet to surround a run in 11 appearances this season, while earning nine saves.
Alabama hosts Troy on Tuesday, April 19th and South Alabama on Wednesday, April 20th (both at 6:30 p.m.), before traveling to Texas A@M for a three game series on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Troy has a 22-15 record and the Tide defeated them 2-1 on March 1st at Troy. South Alabama is ranked 21st in the nation and has a 27-10 record. The Aggies are ranked third in the nation, and have a 29-7 overall record and are 10-5 in the SEC. The TAM games are scheduled for 6:30 p.m., 2:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. All five games this week will be available on SEC Network Plus, Watch ESPN app.
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[ED. NOTE: Alabama linebacker/outfielder Keith Holcombe missed Saturday's A-Day spring game due to a "slight concussion." No word on when and if he will return to the baseball team.]