OXFORD, Miss. (WCBI/Ole Miss Athletics) –Will Allen came up with a two-out, two-RBI single in the eighth inning on Saturday to break open a tie game for the Rebels as No. 18 Ole Miss (25-10, 6-8 SEC) defeated No. 22 Alabama (22-15, 8-6 SEC) by a score of 5-2.
The win, sealed in front of a Swayze Field record crowd of 11,729, clinched the weekend series for the Rebels. Ole Miss won the series opener 6-0 on Friday night.
Tanner Bailey (2-1) picked up the win in relief, working 1.2 innings while allowing a hit, a walk and notching a strikeout. Bailey entered the game in relief of starter Mike Mayers with two men on and one out in a 2-1 game in the seventh inning.
Mayers was solid in the start, allowing two runs – one earned – with four strikeouts and no walks through 6.1 innings of work. One of his two runs came after leaving the game in the seventh.
Brett Huber then picked up his eighth save of the season, entering the game in the ninth and closing things out.
Jon Keller (3-5) took the loss in relief after allowing three runs on two hits with four walks and a strikeout in 2.1 innings of work. All three of the runs scored off Keller were unearned as the Rebels rallied in the eighth inning for the win.
“This was one of those grind it out types of games,” Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said. “Both teams played very well. They (Alabama) pitched well, and we pitched well. They played good defense and so did we. Neither team did much offensively. Today we played a little bit better than them in all phases. Not much, but just enough. We only had three or four hits, but they were all really big hits. I’m proud of the way (Mike) Mayers pitched today. It was for sure the best I’ve seen him all year and the best in a long time.”
Ole Miss scored first, pushing two runs home in the sixth inning as part of a two-out rally. With a man on third and two away, Alabama elected to intentionally walk Stuart Turner to get to Andrew Mistone. The senior third baseman made the most of the opportunity, lacing a shot back up the middle to bring home Tanner Mathis and leave two men on base.
Preston Overbey then drew a walk to load the bases before Sikes Orvis would draw a walk to bring Turner home and give the Rebels the 2-0 lead. Alabama then got a groundout back to the pitcher to end the inning.
The Crimson Tide answered with a rally in the top of the seventh to tie the game. Back-to-back singles opened the frame before Kyle Overstreet delivered a one-out, RBI single to right center to cut the lead in half and send Ole Miss to the bullpen for Bailey.
Bailey got a fly out for the second out, then got Mikey White to strike out swinging. The ball got away from Turner in a rare passed ball on the catcher, allowing White to reach base safely and load the bases. Andrew Miller then fought off several pitches to draw a bases loaded walk and tie the game before another flyout would end the inning.
Ole Miss put together an answering rally in the eighth, taking the lead for good with a three-run inning off another two-out rally.
A walk and a fielding error on a ground ball at short put two men home before Preston Overbey drew a one-out walk to load the bases. A strikeout put two away in the next at bat, but the Rebels’ Allen answered the bell and delivered a shot up the middle to bring to runs home and put Ole Miss on top. Austin Knight then gave the Rebels an insurance run with a pinch-hit RBI single to left as Ole Miss grabbed a 5-2 lead after eight innings of play.
Huber then closed out the game, working the ninth with a strikeout to preserve the win and clinch the series for the Rebels.
Ole Miss and Alabama will conclude the weekend series at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday.