March 30, 2014
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Jon Keller threw a complete game and held ninth-ranked Mississippi to one run, as the No. 30 Alabama Crimson Tide completed a series sweep over the Rebel with a 3-1 Southeastern Conference victory on Sunday afternoon at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
With their first series sweep over a top-15 SEC opponent since 2009, Alabama moves to 19-8 overall and 6-3 in SEC play. Ole Miss drops to 21-8 overall with a 4-5 conference mark.
"Jon Keller did a great job today, as the game got deeper, he got stronger," Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "I had to make a decision in the ninth, as he was around 100 pitches, but you could see it in his eyes that he wanted that game and he wanted to finish it. With him being a bulldog and trusting him, we stayed with him and he delivered there in the ninth and finished it off."
Keller (5-1) continued his strong pitching with his longest career outing, limiting the Rebels to one run on seven hits and three walks with eight strikeouts. The south paw from Maylene, Ala., threw the first Alabama complete game since March 30, 2013, throwing 116 total pitches, while lowing his season ERA to 1.50, the lowest mark of any of Alabama's weekend starters.
Kyle Overstreet remained the Tide's hottest hitter, as he notched a single, double and a run scored to extend his team season-long hitting streak to 11 games. The three-hit performance was also his team leading 10th multi-hit game of the season. Alabama's sophomore second baseman hit .500 (5-for-10) in the series with three doubles, three RBI and two runs scored.
Ben Moore, who finished the series 6-for-11 (.545), posted a pair of singles and a run scored. Mikey White's only hit of the game was a solo home run in the fourth inning and Wade Wass was 1-for-3 with an RBI single.
Sam Smith (3-2) was charged with the loss as the Rebels' starter surrendered three runs on eight hits with three strikeouts in 6.2 innings. Offensively for the Rebels, both Sikes Orvis and Will Allen posted two-hit performances, while Colby Bortles scored their lone run.
Despite being unable to score a run with bases loaded in the first, the Rebel bats broke through for the first run of the game in the second. A leadoff walk from Bortles was followed by a single to right by Orvis, putting runners on the corners and no outs. Keller induced a groundout double play from Errol Robinson, but Bortles crossed home on the play to put Mississippi on top early, 1-0.
"Offensively it came down to the fourth inning," Gaspard said. "Mikey White hit a big home run to tie it and we strung some hits together and hit the magic number of three, which seems to be the number for us right now.
Continuing the trend of the series' back-and-forth scoring, the Tide struck for three runs in the bottom of the fourth. White brought in their first run of the inning with a leadoff home run over the left field wall, for his second home run of the season. After Moore singled and Overstreet doubled to set up runners on second and third with no outs, Wass sent a line drive off Sam Smith's shin for an infield single, which allowed Moore to score the go ahead run. Austen Smith capped the scoring by driving in Overstreet on a fielder's choice to put the Tide up 3-1 after four.
Alabama did not need another run for the remainder of the game, as Keller dug in to blank the Rebels for the final seven innings. Over that stretch, Keller struck out seven, while allowing four singles and a walk.
The Alabama baseball team returns to action on Tuesday for a midweek matchup with the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks, with first pitch set for 6:05 p.m. from Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Following their midweek tilt, the Crimson Tide will hit the road for their fourth Southeastern Conference matchup of 2014, as they travel to College Station, Texas, for a weekend set against the Texas A&M Aggies.
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Alabama Game Notes
*After 344 games played all-time between the two schools, Alabama owns a 202-141-1 record against Mississippi.
*Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard hoisted his record to 11-8 in games coached against Mississippi.
*Alabama moved to 19-0 when it scores three or more runs.
*The Tide is now 15-3 (.833) in games played at Sewell-Thomas Stadium this season.
*The Alabama baseball team completed the sweep of its highest-ranked opponent under Gaspard, with the last sweep of a top-15 team coming against No. 11 Arkansas the weekend of May 8, 2009.
*Jon Keller posted Alabama's first nine-inning complete game since Spencer Turnbull went the distance at Auburn on March 30, 2013.
*Following his outing against Mississippi, Keller holds the lowest ERA (1.50) amongst Alabama's current weekend starters.
*Keller posted his third "quality start" in four opportunities this season.
*Keller continues to lead the team and moves into a tie for second in the SEC with five wins this season.
*Kyle Overstreet's career-long hitting streak was extended to 11 games with a single in the first. It's the longest by an Alabama player this season, and is the longest since Brett Booth's 11-game hitting streak in 2013.
*With three hits on Sunday Overstreet now has a team-high 10 multiple-hit game of the season, marking the 27th of his career.
*Ben Moore recorded a pair of singles for his ninth multiple-hit game this season, and the 49th of his career.
*Wade Wass notched a base hit for the ninth consecutive game, the second longest streak by an Alabama player this season.