Sports Scores March 25, 2012

By Staff and wire reports

College Baseball

Ole Miss 8, Alabama 4

Ole Miss Media Relations
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Down one run with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth inning, Zach Kirksey came up with a sac fly to the wall in center field that drove in two runs as part of a four-run rally to help No. 17 Ole Miss (17-7, 3-3 SEC) defeat Alabama (9-15, 1-5 SEC) on Sunday by a score of 8-4.

The win gave the Rebels the series, marking the first series win for Ole Miss in Tuscaloosa since the 2004 season when the Rebels also picked up a victory on Sunday to claim the series over the Crimson Tide.

Kirksey’s two RBI fly out to the wall in straight away center put Ole Miss on top 5-4 and the Rebels would not relinquish the lead. It was the second rally of the day for the Rebels who had already fought back from a 2-0 deficit to tie the game before falling behind by two runs again in the fifth inning.

Dylan Chavez (3-0) picked up the win in relief, working the final 2.1 innings and holding the Crimson Tide hitless while striking out two batters. He retired all seven batters faced down the stretch.

Spencer Turnbull (0-2) took the loss for Alabama, allowing four runs on four hits with a strikeout in 0.2 innings of work. Turnbull entered the game to relieve starter Jon Keller with two outs in the seventh inning. He got the Crimson Tide out of the inning, but left the game in the eighth with one out on the board and the bases loaded after having already surrendered one run to cut the lead to 4-3.

“It was a really good game and series with a lot of emotion from both teams,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “I’m proud of our guys and the way we hung in there today. Mike Mayers pitched well and Dylan (Chavez) did a great on the mound at the end.

“We’ve lacked the timely hit, but we got that today,” Bianco said. “I’m proud of the way we swung the bat there at the end of the game.”

Ole Miss returns to action on Tuesday night in a non-conference game against Jackson State at 6:30 p.m. at Oxford-University Stadium. It’s the first of four home games next week as the Rebels will also host No. 1 Florida next weekend in a three-game series.

Arkansas 8, Mississippi State 5 11 innings

Miss. State Media Relations/Brad Locke NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State pushed home the game-tying run in the ninth inning but could not pull out the victory Sunday afternoon, falling 8-5 to No. 3 Arkansas in an 11-inning Southeastern Conference baseball game played at Dudy Noble Field.

The Razorbacks clinched the weekend series with back-to-back victories. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs lost in extra-innings for the third time this season. Arkansas improved to 22-3 overall and 5-1 in league play, while MSU fell to 16-9 and 2-4.

“I really feel like our kids are doing everything they possibly can to keep us in games and to give us the best chance to win. It’s just not happening for us right now.” MSU coach John Cohen

MSU built an early 2-0 lead with a pair of scores in the second inning. Mitch Slauter and Wes Rea began the inning with back-to-back singles. A hit batsman forced in a run and a double play ground ball scored another.

After that, the Bulldogs were stymied until their ninth inning rally.

For MSU, starting pitcher Kendall Graveman carried a shutout into the sixth inning before the Razorbacks struck for a pair of runs. Graveman worked 5.1 innings, allowing eight hits and two runs (both earned), with two walks and two strikeouts.

The Razorbacks pulled even on back-to-back RBI-singles from Derrick Bleeker and Jimmy Bosco.

Caleb Reed (0-4) worked the Dogs out of the tight spot. However, the All-American closer was touched for a sun-aided RBI-double by Dominic Ficociello an inning later.

MSU hosts Alcorn State (6-17) at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Houston 10, Southern Miss 5

Southern Miss Media Relations
HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Houston used a six-run, second inning to race out to an early lead and defeat Southern Miss 10-5 here Sunday in Conference USA baseball action and avoid a sweep at the hands of the Golden Eagles in the opening series of league play.

The Golden Eagles (14-10 overall, 2-1 C-USA) had a three-game winning streak snapped as it was the first time in 10 meetings that the Cougars had been able to collect a win over USM at Pete Taylor Park/Hill Denson Field.

Blake Brown tallied a three-run homer in the seventh, his sixth of the season, to provide the big offensive blow for the home squad, but it was too little, too late as the Cougars had built a 10-2 advantage up prior to his blast.

After getting out of a jam in the first inning with two runners stranded, USM starter Cody Livingston (1-1) could not get an out in the second as he allowed four-straight hits to start the frame and then hit a batter to end his day.

Livingston allowed five runs on six hits with a strikeout to suffer the loss.

UH starter Justin Pruitt (2-2) went 6 2/3 innings and surrendered three runs on four hits and four walks with six strikeouts to capture the victory.

The Golden Eagles return to action Tuesday when they entertain Louisiana-Monroe (13-11) in a 6 p.m., contest at home to end a string of seven-of-eight games at the friendly confines of Pete Taylor Park.

College Basketball

Kentucky beats Baylor 82-70 in South Regional

PAUL NEWBERRY,AP Sports Writer

ATLANTA (AP) — Kentucky is taking its highlight show back to the Big Easy.

With an NBA-like display from a young team filled with future pros, top-seeded Wildcats advanced to the Final Four for the second year in a row with a 82-70 blitzing of Baylor in the South Regional final on Sunday.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored 19 points, Anthony Davis added 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Terrence Jones dazzled in all the overlooked areas, leading the Wildcats (36-2) to a Bluegrass showdown with rival Louisville in the national semifinals next Saturday at New Orleans.

For all the hoopla sure to surround that game in the basketball-crazed state, Kentucky won’t consider the season a success unless it wins two more games — culminating in a national title.

“This team is playing for you and playing for each other,” coach John Calipari told the predominantly blue-clad crowd when it was over. “Let’s see if we can keep this thing rolling a bit.”

This group sure has the look of a champion, shaking off an early blow by the Bears (30-8) — a very good team with a daring fashion sense that was simply no match for Calipari’s latest group of Fab Freshmen. Kentucky took control with an early 16-0 run and led by 20 at halftime.

Taylor’s 22 lead KU to 80-67 win over Carolina

NANCY ARMOUR,AP National Writer
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Nothing personal, Roy.

Tyshawn Taylor broke out of his slump in a big way Sunday, scoring 22 points and leading Kansas back to the Final Four with an 80-67 victory over former coach Roy Williams and top-seeded North Carolina.

The second-seeded Jayhawks (31-6) will play Ohio State on Saturday in their first appearance in the Final Four since 2008, when they won the national championship. And how’s this for symmetry? Kansas began this year’s tournament in Omaha, Neb., same place as four years ago.

As the game ended, Taylor — much maligned for his shooting struggles during the first three games of the NCAA tournament — ran to Kansas fans and raised both arms in the air.

Taylor led five Jayhawks in double figures. Player of the year candidate Thomas Robinson added 18 points and nine rebounds, and Elijah Johnson kept up his blistering pace in the tournament with 10 points, including a 3-pointer with 3:07 to play that sparked Kansas’ 12-0 run to end the game.

James Michael McAdoo scored 15 for the Tar Heels (32-6), who played better in their second game without injured star point guard Kendall Marshall. But North Carolina couldn’t overcome a 5:46 field goal drought to end the game.

“It was a game of runs,” Williams said. “And we didn’t answer the last one.”

This was only the second time Williams had faced Kansas since leaving the school where he spent his first 15 years as a head coach, taking the Jayhawks to the NCAA title game twice — they lost in both 1991 and 2003 — and two other Final Fours. Though Kansas fans have softened some — Williams was still greeted with a chorus of boos — Williams said Saturday that facing his old team will always be unpleasant.

FINAL FOUR
At The Superdome
New Orleans
National Semifinals

Saturday, March 31
Kentucky (36-2) vs. Louisville (30-9), 5:09 p.m.

Ohio State (31-7) vs. Kansas (31-6), 7:49 p.m.
National Championship

Monday, April 2
Semifinal winners, 8 p.m.

Golf

Couples sinks birdie putt to win at Fallen Oak
DAVID BRANDT,AP Sports Writer

SAUCIER, Miss. (AP) — Fred Couples looks like a man who is ready for another run at the Masters.

The 52-year-old made a 10-foot birdie putt on the final hole Sunday to win the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic, capping an impressive showing at the Champions Tour event just two weeks before his annual trip to Augusta.

“I want to go into (the Masters) after winning a tournament like this feeling some confidence and I did get a lot today,” Couples said. “I hit a lot of good shots. I would say I’ve got a lot to work on, but if I can drive it like that, the course will be easier.”

Couples made the tournament’s outcome more interesting than he would have liked.

He easily navigated through the first 14 holes on Sunday with four birdies, no bogeys and no major trouble. But he surprisingly bogeyed the par-5 15th after a poor approach and chip shot, and carded another bogey on the par-3 17th before a flawless final hole salvaged the victory.

The 18th at Fallen Oak is the toughest-rated on the course, but Couples crushed his drive right down the middle of the fairway and used his sand wedge to clear a water hazard and stick the approach close to the hole.

His final putt was slightly downhill and he hit it perfectly. Couples admitted to getting “a little jumpy” down the stretch, but said he played well enough earlier in the round to give him a cushion.

“The bottom line is you get a lot of chances to win if you play well,” Couples said.

Couples started the day tied for the lead with Jeff Sluman, but moved ahead with a birdie on the first hole. He led the rest of the day until the 17th, when his bogey dropped him into a tie with Michael Allen.

Tiger Woods a winner on tour again after 30 months

DOUG FERGUSON,AP Golf Writer
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Tiger Woods finally brought the buzz back to the very thing that made him famous — winning.

Two weeks after another injury scare, and two days before his former coach’s book goes on sale, Woods looked dominant as ever Sunday in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

It was his first PGA Tour victory since a sex scandal at the end of 2009 led to one of the greatest downfalls in sports. And with the Masters only two weeks away, Woods looks more capable of ever than resuming his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus in the majors.

Woods closed with a 2-under 70 for a five-shot win over Graeme McDowell.

The question two weeks ago was when he could play again. Now, it’s whether he can rule the sport like he once did.

Read about all these events in Monday’s NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.