Friday, May 27, 2005
HOOVER, Ala. -- Ole Miss right-hander Brian Pettway nearly gave the No. 16 University of Alabama baseball team the lead with a blown save in the top of the eighth inning.
The junior redeemed himself in the bottom of the inning with a two-run home run to dead center field to lift the No. 14 Rebels to a 5-3 win over the Crimson Tide in front a session record crowd of 11,519 at the Hoover Met on Friday night.
Pettway's 19th home run of the season came after Chris Coghlan reached on an infield base hit as the Rebels advanced to meet the top seed Florida on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
Alabama (38-20) was eliminated from the SEC Tournament and will now wait to see its pairing in the 2005 NCAA Regionals, which will be announced on Monday, May 30 at 10:30 a.m. on ESPN. The Crimson Tide is still hopeful it will be selected as one of the 16 NCAA Regional host sites, which will be announced on Sunday, May 29 at 2:30 p.m.
Coghlan reached on a one-out infield single in the eighth inning before Pettway smashed the game-winner off losing pitcher David Robertson well over the 405-foot mark in center field.
Robertson (7-5) allowed two runs and two its in two innings of work and struck out two batters. He replaced starter Jordan Davis after a leadoff double by Cooper Osteen in the seventh inning. Davis allowed three runs and six hits in seven innings and added two strikeouts.
Pettway's heroics were necessary after the right fielder-turned-closer took the mound with one out in the eighth inning and issued a pair of walks as Alabama tied the game.
Senior left fielder Gabe Scott opened the inning with a single to center field, his third hit of the game off Ole Miss starter Eric Fowler. Evan Bush reached on a fielder's choice and Scott reached second base on a throwing error by Ole Miss first baseman Stepehen Head.
Senior first baseman Zac Welch laid down his second sacrifice bunt of the game to move both runners into scoring position. Pettway, a right-hander, replaced Flower, a left hander, and Alabama coach Jim Wells inserted left-hand pinch-hitter Matt Grooms.
Grooms was intentionally walked to load the bases and senior right fielder Morrow Thomley was unintentionally walked to force home Scott with the tying run. With the score tied at 3-3 and one out, sophomore centerfielder Emeel Salem hit a weak pop up in four territory to the catcher for the second out and pinch-hitter Spencer Pennington struck out on a 3-2 pitch to leave the bases loaded.
Pettway escaped the jam and then won the game with his two-run home run in the eighth. Pettway (2-1) worked the final 1 2/3 innings and allowed one hit, two walks and struck out two for the win.
UM starter Eric Fowler worked 7 1/3 innings and allowed three runs and four hits, with four walks and nine strikeouts in the game.
Alabama had cut the lead to 3-2 with a run in the sixth inning on just one hit. Scott and junior Evan Bush drew back-to-back walks and Welch laid down a sacrifice bunt to move both runners in scoring position.
Junior catcher Kody Valverde reached on a fielder's choice as Scott was caught in no-man's land at third base and was out at home. Scott stayed in the run-down long enough to allow Bush to move to third base. Thomley then singled to left to score Bush from third and cut the lead to 3-2. Salem grounded out on the next pitch to end the inning.
Salem was 0-for-4 in the game with a strikeout and foul out and stranded five base runners, including three in scoring position.
Ole Miss (42-17) had taken a 3-1 lead with three runs in the second inning as they took advantage of two Alabama errors.
Mark Wright singled through the left side of the infield with one out and scored when Osteen doubled just inside the chalk down the right field line. Zack Cozart then reached on a two-base throwing error by Cale Iorg at shortstop. Osteen scored on the play to give the Rebels a 2-1 lead.
Barry Gunther then flied out to deep right center field and Cozart scored from second on the play when UA second baseman Greg Piaml could not handle the relay throw from Thomley in right field.
Cozart, who appeared to be off the bag when the ball was caught by Thomley, scored when the Tide's appeal play was denied by the second base umpire.
Alabama had taken a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning when Senior DH Allen Rice drew a lead off walk and scored on Scott's RBI double to right center field. It was Scott's first hit and RBI of the SEC Tournament.
Scott had three of Alabama's five hits, while Thomley had one hit and two RBI in the loss. Osteen had two of Ole Miss' eight hits in the win.