Alabama baseball had the pitching to match Ole Miss. But the Crimson Tide never found the offense it needed for a win.
The No. 5 Rebels (41-13, 16-12 SEC) won 3-2 in the series opener on Thursday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Alabama (26-28, 7-21 SEC) finished with just two hits and five walks on the night.
“I don’t believe in moral victories, but we played a pretty good baseball game tonight. I told the kids that I can handle that,” coach Brad Bohannon said. “If you play that clean, you’re going to win more than you’re going to lose over time. To Ole Miss’ credit, they pitched it at a really high level and just got a few more hits than we did.”
Alabama’s best chance might have been the fourth inning, when it loaded the bases with no outs for its 6-7-8 hitters. UA scored one run on an error from Ole Miss to tie the game at 2-2, but couldn’t take the lead.
“Especially in hindsight, you look back at the game and that was our shot,” Bohannon said. “Against a pitcher like that, you don’t get those opportunities very often. When you do, you have to capitalize. It was a tough matchup for where we were in the order. Sometimes you just have to get a hit.”
The Rebels retook the lead in the top of the sixth inning with a double, ground ball to move the runner to third, then by a single.
Ole Miss starter Ryan Rolison lasted six innings, giving up both hits to Alabama and all five walks. The Crimson Tide went down in order in the last three innings against relievers Will Ethridge and Parker Caracci.
Alabama starter Sam Finnerty threw 5 2/3 innings, allowing eight hits but no walks to give his team a chance. He gave up all three runs to Ole Miss and left the game with two runners on base, but sophomore reliever Davis Vainer got the final out of the sixth.
Vainer threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings, followed by freshman Brock Guffey. He gave up just one hit in two innings.
“Everybody that pitched tonight was great,” Bohannon said. “Sam gave us yet another quality start and Davis and Brock both did a really good job out of the pen.”
Junior outfielder Chandler Taylor had a solo home run in the second inning for one of Alabama’s two hits. It was his 38th career home run, tying him for 9th in school history. It was also his 100th career RBI.
Junior outfielder Joe Breaux left the game after banging into the wall while making a catch to end the top of the first, appearing to injure his ankle. He batted in the bottom half of the inning but didn’t return to the field in the second.
“It’s not serious at all,” Bohannon said. “He wanted to stay in the game. Just watching him through the at-bat, it didn’t look like he could play close to 100 percent. So initially it looks like it’s very minor, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he can play tomorrow.”
Reach Ben Jones at email@example.com or 205-722-0196.