TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Two Friday night starters with sub-1 earned run averages were hit hard, but Spencer Turnbull absorbed the blows.
No. 13 Ole Miss put up six runs over the first four innings against a native Mississippian but couldn’t get him out of the game.
Turnbull allowed 10 hits but went 62⁄3 innings, and Alabama won 7-6 before a crowd of 3,302 at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
Game 2 is today at 6 p.m.
When Turnbull was gone the Rebels could get nothing against left-handed freshman reliever Thomas Burrows, who gave up only one hit, walked none and struck out four in 21⁄3 innings.
It was not Sweet Home Alabama for Ole Miss starter Chris Ellis, who played high school ball at Spain Park in Birmingham. He gave up six runs – all earned – on seven hits.
Ellis began the night with a 0.67 ERA and was not involved in the decision.
“I don’t know if you can figure that out unless you get the tape and really break it down,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “He was up in the zone, but it was crazy. They got off more swings in two innings that people have all year against him.”
Alabama (17-8, 4-3 SEC) went into the game hitting just .273.
Austin Anderson put Ole Miss up in the first with a two-run home run and finished 3-for-4.
Down 7-6 in the seventh, the Rebels (21-6, 4-3) had a chance to tie the game, but Will Allen struck out – the last batter Turnbull faced – and Braxton Lee was caught stealing at third with an 0-2 count for lefty hitter Sikes Orvis against Burrows.
The Rebels were down 5-2 in the third when Orvis doubled home two runs to make it 5-4.
Ole Miss tied the game in the fourth with a one-out triple from Will Jamison and RBI hits from Lee and Anderson.
After retiring the first nine batters he faced, Ole Miss reliever Scott Weathersby allowed a double and single to start the bottom of the sixth. It was his runner who scored on a ground ball against Matt Denny to give Alabama a 7-6 lead.
Confidence was shaken for Ellis as Alabama built momentum.
“You felt like if you threw a ball in there they were going to hit it in the gap or hit another freaking home run,” he said. “I should have made better pitches and let my defense play behind me. I was trying to throw it past them, and it didn’t work tonight.”