April 13, 2013
OXFORD, Miss. – The No. 18-ranked Mississippi Rebels scored three unearned runs in the bottom of the eighth inning en route to a 5-2 Southeastern Conference win over the No. 22-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide, in front of a record crowd of 11,729 at Swayze Field on Saturday. With the loss, the Tide falls to 22-15 overall and 8-6 in SEC play. The Rebels improve to 25-10 overall and 6-8 in conference play.
With the score knotted at 2-2 in the eighth, the Rebels got a two-out, bases loaded single from Will Allen off Alabama reliever Jon Keller (3-5) to drive in two go-ahead runs. Then with runners on the corners a single from pinch-hitter Austin Knight to drive in the third run of the inning. With the Rebels leading 5-2, they turned the game over to their closer Brett Huber, who recorded his eighth save of the season with a scoreless ninth inning, preserving the victory for reliever Tanner Bailey (2-1). Bailey threw 1.2 innings, allowing one hit with a walk and a strikeout in relief of starter Mike Mayers.
“We got a really good start from Justin Kamplain, particularly with this being his first start of the year,” Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “I had a feeling that when he got up to the 70-80 pitch mark, we were going to have to do something at that point, but he gave us a tremendous start. We tried to piece it together and Jon (Keller) was a really good match up as well. We got in a bind there in the eighth and couldn’t wiggle our way out of it.”
Neither of the starting pitchers factored into the decision, as Alabama’s Justin Kamplain, who was making his first start of the season, threw 5.2 innings, allowing two runs on two hits with four walks and a strikeout. Mississippi starter, Mayers, went 6.1 innings, allowing two runs on four hits with four strikeouts.
Alabama outhit the Rebels five to four in the game as Georgie Salem, Kenny Roberts, Ben Moore, Brett Booth and Kyle Overstreet all had singles for the Tide. Allen had half the hits for Mississippi, while Andrew Mistone and Knight had one hit each. Mississippi benefitted by nine walks by Alabama pitchers, as Overbey walked four times for the Rebels.
Mississippi took a 1-0 lead when Mistone delivered a two-out single with runners on the corners in the sixth. After Kamplain walked Tanner Mathis to lead off the inning, he moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Austin Anderson. Auston Bousfield’s grounder to second allowed Mathis to move over to third then Kamplain intentionally walked Stuart Turner to face Mistone, who singled to center on the first pitch of the at-bat. Tucker Hawley replaced Kamplain, and walked Overbey to load the bases. Jon Keller entered for the Tide and walked Sikes Orvis to push the second run of the inning across. Keller got Allen to hit a chopper back to the mound to prevent further damage.
Alabama answered in the top of the seventh after Roberts and Moore singled to open the inning. A Booth fly out to fight field allowed Roberts to move up to third then Overstreet singled to right field on the first pitch of the next at-bat to drive in Roberts, for his team lead 25th RBI of the season, ending the day for Mayers.
“Offensively, were struggling a little bit,” Gaspard said. “We’re in one of those offensive funks that teams go through in a long season. We managed to tie the game in the seventh and really had an opportunity to get more, in both the seventh and eighth, but we just couldn’t get the big hit today.”
Tanner Bailey replaced Mayers and got Smith to line out to left field for the second out of the inning. After Mikey White reached on a third strike wild pitch, Andrew Miller walked with the bases loaded to tie the game at 2-2.
In the decisive eighth inning, Mississippi got a walk and a fielding error to open the inning, then the Tide the benefit of a call at third base on a sac bunt attempts for the first out of the inning. After a walk to Overbey loaded the bases, Keller struck out Orvis for the second out of the inning. Allen then smoked a 1-0 pitch back up the middle to drive in the go ahead runs.
“Like I told the team, this is life on the road and you have bounce back tomorrow,” Gaspard said. “We need to be better offensively, get on the fast ball more and take more aggressive swings come Sunday.”
Alabama and Mississippi will wrap up the series on Sunday with first pitch slated for 1:30 p.m. CST from Swayze Field. Alabama will start RHP Spencer Turnbull (4-1, 2.22) and the Rebels will throw RHP Sam Smith (2-0, 4.40).
Follow the Alabama Crimson Tide baseball team on Facebook at Alabama-Baseball and on Twitter at @AlabamaBSB.