Brett Booth Walk-off Home Run Lifts Alabama to 3-2 Win Over No. 17 Mississippi
March 24, 2012
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Brett Booth's two-out, two-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning propelled the Alabama baseball team to a dramatic, 3-2, win over the No. 17-ranked Mississippi Rebels on Saturday at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. With the victory the Crimson Tide improves to 9-14 on the season and 1-4 in Southeastern Conference play while the Rebels fall to 16-7 (2-3 SEC).
Booth's game-winning home run, his first homer of the season, capped a 1-for-4, two-RBI performance at the plate, helping the Crimson Tide halt a five-game losing streak. The walk-off home run was the first for Alabama since Kent Matthes' walk-off effort versus Nichols State on Feb. 25, 2009. Moreover, it was the Crimson Tide's first game-winning home run since Brett Whitaker's 10th-inning game-winning home run against Mississippi State on April 30, 2011.
"All week we'd been talking about just competing and really having an understanding of what that is at each per bat," UA head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "I thought Brett (Booth) just really showed that in the last at-bat, same with (Josh) Rosecrans, to start the inning. Overall, I'm happy for our team. It's been a tough month and certainly the last week and a half has been a grind. They've continued to work hard and stay at it. I'm happy for those guys and hopefully we can take this win into tomorrow."
UA starting pitcher Justin Kamplain tossed a career-high 7.0 innings, allowing two runs on three hits while tying his career-high with six strikeouts. The freshman left hander pitched six innings of no-hit ball to start the game, allowing the Rebels their first hit in the seventh. Kamplain retired the first 14 batters he faced, before allowing a walk with two outs in the fifth.
Freshman Taylor Guilbeau (2-2) earned the victory for the Tide, pitching a scoreless ninth inning of relief. Guilbeau pitched out of a jam in the ninth, getting Zach Kersley to fly out to left field with the bases loaded. On the day, Alabama pitchers allowed the Rebels just two runs on four hits, the second-lowest tally of the season in both categories for Mississippi.
"Today starts on the mound and Justin Kamplain," Gaspard said. "I thought that was the best start we've had all year, and particularly for any of our freshmen guys that have gone out. You could see that he really slowed the game down today and was able to execute his secondary pitches. That was the plan with Coach Norris; we wanted to pitch backwards, which means we were going to throw a few more breaking balls today. It worked really well against a left-handed dominant lineup with Ole Miss. (Jay) Shaw came in and worked a good inning and then Guilbeau wiggled out there in the ninth inning of a tough spot."
Freshman catcher Ben Moore was 1-for-4 at the plate with one RBI day, while freshman AJ Cole tallied a 1-for-3 effort with a run scored, in his first career start at second base. Josh Rosecrans finished the day 2-for-4, marking the third time Rosecrans has registered two or more hits this season.
Mississippi relief pitcher Brett Huber (0-1) took the loss, after allowing Booth's walk-off home run. Rebel starter R.J. Hively pitched 8.0 innings, allowing just one run on four hits while striking out eight batters.
Alabama struck first versus the Rebels for the second consecutive game, taking a 1-0 advantage in the bottom of the third inning on Moore's two-out RBI single.
The lead would last all the way to top of the seventh, until Mississippi plated a pair in the frame to take a 2-1 advantage. Rebel second baseman Alex Yarbrough broke up Kamplain's no-hit effort with a single to lead off the inning. Yarbrough came around to score on a one-out, RBI single by catcher Will Allen. Mississippi grabbed the lead later in the frame on Preston Overbey's RBI single, scoring Allen from third.
After a scoreless eighth, Rosecrans led off the ninth with a single to get things started. Brandt Hendricks, who came in to pinch-run for Rosecrans, then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by pinch-hitter Jon Kelton, before later moving to third on a groundout by Cole.
From there, Booth quickly got down 0-2 before battling his way back against Huber, unleashing a 2-2 pitch over the wall in left field to secure the Tide's first SEC win of the season.
The Crimson Tide and Rebels will close out the series on Sunday, with first pitch scheduled for 1:05 p.m., from Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Alabama will start freshman left-hander John Keller (0-0, 3.38), while Mississippi will counter with sophomore righty Mike Mayers (2-2, 3.34)
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Alabama 3, Mississippi 2 (Mar 24, 2012 at Tuscaloosa, Ala.)