TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama put up four runs in the seventh inning Sunday, overcoming a 3-2 deficit and a 3 hour, 55-minute rain-delayed start time to knock off No. 15 Ole Miss 6-3 and take the SEC series from the Rebels.
Played before a sparse gathering at Sewell-Thomas Stadium, the Crimson Tide kept its SEC tournament hopes alive and dropped Ole Miss a game behind Auburn, which defeated Tennessee 9-2 Sunday, in the SEC West.
The Rebels and Tigers meet in the season’s final series beginning Thursday at 6:30 p.m, at Swayze Field. Auburn will win the West if it wins the series. Ole Miss (36-17, 16-11 SEC) is currently tied with Arkansas in second place. If the Rebels win the Auburn series, tie-breakers to determine the West champ could come into play depending on how Arkansas does at Vanderbilt.
Missing designated hitter Matt Snyder, a key long-ball hitter and run-producer, Ole Miss scored just nine runs on the weekend, just four in the final 24 innings after a five-run out-burst in the first three innings on Friday carried the Rebels to a 5-4 win in Game 1.
Snyder is nursing a season-long shoulder injury, and his availability for the remainder of the season is unclear.
“It’s no secret we’re a different team with him,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “The last two weekends we haven’t scored enough runs, and we’re fortunate to have won two games.”
Sunday, the Rebels got solid starting pitching from David Goforth, but the Tide drew even when Goforth, in a one-run game, gave up a triple and an RBI double with one out in the seventh.
Eric Callender relieved Goforth and got Cody Trotter to pop-up for the second out, but Alabama took the lead when two runs scored on a two-out throwing error by second baseman Alex Yarbrough.
It looked like Ole Miss would get out of the inning tied at 3 when Yarbrough made a diving stop worthy of ESPN highlights off the bat of Josh Rutledge, but his throw was high over the head of first baseman Miles Hamblin.
Yarbrough said he didn’t rush the throw but lost his grip on a wet ball.
“When it came out of my hand I knew it was going to sail over his head,” Yarbrough said. “I didn’t feel like I rushed it.”
Alabama tacked on an RBI single and left the seventh ahead 6-3.
Right-hander Nathan Kilcrease pitched the second-straight complete game for the Crimson Tide (31-21, 12-15). His nine innings were a career-long, and he matched a career-high with seven strikeouts. He retired the last nine batters he faced.
Goforth went 61/3 innings with seven hits, four runs, one walk and three strikeouts.
The Rebels got on the board in the fourth some two-out offense. Tim Ferguson singled hard off the glove of Alabama third baseman Jake Smith and scored ahead of Zach Miller when Miller’s fly ball drifted over the fence in left.
The Crimsons tied the game in bottom of the inning. Ross Wilson led off with a single and scored when Clay Jones doubled to center field.
Jones took second on a ground ball and scored on a sacrifice fly.
Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal