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Ole Miss Falls in Rubber Game with Alabama

The No. 8 Ole Miss baseball team fell 7-2 to Alabama in the rubber match of a conference series Sunday afternoon at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The Crimson Tide (22-14, 8-7 SEC) used a six-run fifth inning to take game three over the Rebels (26-10, 7-8 SEC).

Sophomore Tate Blackman and freshman Ryan Olenek both had 2-for-4 days to pace the Ole Miss bats. Blackman earned his team-leading 13th multi-hit game of the season, while Olenek collected his seventh. Seven different Rebels recorded hits to bring the team total to nine during the afternoon.

Making his first appearance in two weeks, starting pitcher Sean Johnson allowed only one run in four innings of work. Andy Pagnozzi (5-2) suffered just his second loss of the season as Alabama tagged three runs off the freshman in the fifth.

The Crimson Tide tallied 11 hits on the afternoon, including three by Cobie Vance. Chandler Avant went 2-for-5 with two RBI, and designated hitter Connor Short added a pair of hits as well. Nick Eicholtz (3-1) picked up the victory on the mound, giving up one run on six hits through 6.0 innings.

Alabama tried to strike in the first, but superb defense by the Rebels prevented the Crimson Tide from succeeding. Vance led off the inning with an infield single on a diving stop by Will Golsan. A passed ball and a grounder to shortstop allowed Vance to move all the way to third with just one out. Johnson walked Chandler Taylor to set up a double play situation, and the Ole Miss starter forced a groundball by cleanup hitter Cody Henry. Blackman and Errol Robinson started the turn before Golsan made an impressive stretch at first to complete the quick 4-6-3 double play and get the Rebels out of the inning unscathed.

The Crimson Tide put the game’s first run on the board in the bottom of the second. Two hits and a walk loaded the bases with one out. Ole Miss nearly got out of the inning again, but Hunter Webb beat out an attempt at a double play to keep the inning alive and plate a run. However, that’s all Alabama would get as Johnson picked off Webb at first on the ensuing at-bat, ending the inning with a lone run.

Ole Miss tied the game at 1-1 with a run in the top of the fifth. With one out, three straight Rebels reached base. Blackman walked before Olenek singled. J.B. Woodman drew a walk to load the bases for Henri Lartigue, whose sacrifice fly to center scored Blackman and evened the contest at one run apiece. However, Alabama countered with six runs in the bottom half of the frame to claim a 7-1 advantage.

After the big inning by the Crimson Tide, Rebel pitching threw up zeroes on the board to keep the deficit from growing. Will Stokes, Chad Smith and Connor Green combined for the scoreless effort.

In the ninth, Robinson ripped a double down the left field line to begin the inning. Olenek knocked his teammate across the plate with a double of his own to make it 7-2. Nonetheless, Dylan Duarte (2) stopped the Ole Miss comeback and capped off the rare three-inning save.

Next week, Ole Miss will play five games in six days, including four at Swayze Field. The Rebels will head to Memphis to begin the week (April 19) before hosting Murray State (April 20). Both midweek matchups are slated to begin at 6:30 p.m. CT. The busy stretch ends with a weekend series at Swayze Field versus SEC West foe Auburn (April 22-24). The final two games of the series with the Tigers will be nationally televised on SEC Network.

Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports

Adam Brown
Adam Brown
Sports Editor

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