March 18, 2011
OXFORD, Miss. - The Alabama baseball team opened Southeastern Conference play with a 4-0 loss to the Mississippi Rebels from Oxford-University Stadium on Friday night. With the loss Crimson Tide is now 11-7, 0-1 SEC, while the Rebels are now 15-4, 1-0 SEC.
Alabama starting pitcher Nathan Kilcrease (2-1) took the loss as he threw 7.0 innings allowing four runs (two earned) on five hits with five strikeouts. Mississippi starting pitcher Matt Crouse improved to 5-0 on the season, throwing 6.2 shutout innings allowing three hits with seven strikeouts. Jake Morgan pitched the final 2.1 innings in relief for the Rebels to pick up his fifth save of the season.
Trey Pilkington threw the final inning for Alabama and retired the only three batters he faced.
Taylor Dugas had two of the seven hits for Alabama, as he was 2-for-4 in the game, extending his hit streak to eight games. Austen Smith and Brock Bennett were the only other starters with a hit, while Jeremiah Tullidge and David Kindred had pinch-hit singles late in the game.
After four scoreless innings, Mississippi got on the scoreboard by scoring all four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning off Kilcrease. Miles Hamblin hit a bloop single to left field to lead off the fifth, and after a sac bunt moved Hamblin to second, left fielder Zach Kirksey homered over the left-center field wall for a 2-0 Rebels lead. Two Tide errors later in the inning resulted in a pair of unearned runs for Mississippi for the final score of 4-0.
Alabama got a pair of runners on base in the seventh inning, but an infield pop out by Jon Kelton and a strikeout of Brandt Hendricks ended the Tide scoring threat.
Bennett singled in the eighth inning to extend his hitting streak to 10 games.
UA had runners on the corners in the ninth inning after singles by Kindred and Josh Sanders, but a strikeout by Case Nixon and a groundout by Jeremiah Tullidge ended the game.
The last run for the Crimson Tide came in the first inning against Auburn on Tuesday night in the MAX Capital City Classic. After being shutout to open SEC play, Alabama has been held scoreless for its last 17 innings. Alabama was shutout for the first time since April 4, 2008, when it was defeated 3-0 by LSU.
Alabama and Mississippi will continue the series on Saturday with game two starting at 2 p.m. from Oxford-University Stadium and will be televised on Comcast SportSouth (CSS). Saturday's probable pitching matchup features left-hander Adam Morgan (2-1, 3.74 ERA) for the Crimson Tide and right-hander David Goforth (0-2, 2.42 ERA) for the Rebels.