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.”
Alabama got on the board in the third inning, capitalizing on a throwing error to third on a bunt to the third base side of the mound. The ball sailed over the head of Andrew Mistone, allowing Austen Smith to score on the play while A.J. Cole reached base safely and move to second on the play. Cole took third on a sac bunt from Hunter Gregory before scoring on a groundout to second from Taylor Dugas to give Alabama the early 2-0 lead.
The Rebels answered in the fifth inning with a two-run home run off the scoreboard in left field from Preston Overbey. Auston Bousfield scored on the play after reaching on a single to left field in the previous at bat.
The Crimson Tide weren’t done, using a wild bottom of the fifth that included a ground-rule double to set up a two-RBI single from Jared Reaves that scored both Dugas and Ben Moore. Ole Miss got out of the inning without any more damage, but Alabama held the 4-2 lead.
Ole Miss went to work in the eighth inning, putting together its second rally with one out after a strikeout started things off for the Rebels. Matt Snyder doubled down the right field line and moved to third on a single to right from Will Allen. Ole Miss then sent Will Jamison in to run for Allen with men at the corners.
Bousfield then delivered on a hit-and-run play with a single deep in the hole at second base, beating the throw to first as Jamison reached second and Snyder scored with no outs on the play. Another single to shallow right from Overbey loaded the bases before Kirksey delivered his two-RBI fly out to center field to put Ole Miss on top 5-4.
Jamison scored from third easily on the play while Bousfield never slowed down after tagging at second, rounded third and slid in safely ahead of the tag at the plate on the play. Overbey continued the theme of aggressive base running, moving from first to third on the fly out. He scored on the next at bat when Blake Newalu delivered a single to center to give Ole Miss the 6-4 lead.
The Rebels put things out of reach for good in the ninth when Snyder delivered his third home run of the season, this time coming up with at two-run shot down the right field line that scored Yarbrough and gave Ole Miss the 8-4 lead that would hold as Chavez retired the side in order in the bottom of the ninth.
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.
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