Ole Miss was looking for one more win to lock up the SEC West. Alabama needed one more win to end its season on a high note with a series win over one of the nation’s best teams.
Both teams battled for nine innings across six hours, including a two-hour rain delay in the third inning. It ended with a 10-8 win for the Rebels. Alabama tied the game twice, then rallied again to pull within one run in the sixth inning and again to cut the lead to two runs in the eighth before its season ended.
“I thought our kids really competed all weekend,” coach Brad Bohannon said. “It was three really tight games that could have gone either way. Knowing we were out of contention, I was really proud of our kids and the effort they gave. Even though we didn’t finish our way today, we answered four times. Four times they scored and we scored in the bottom half of the inning. That’s a huge compliment to the resolve that our kids showed. It’s just unfortunate that we couldn’t come out on top.”
Alabama finished its season 27-29, including 8-22 in SEC play. The Rebels clinched the No. 2 seed in next week’s SEC tournament with the win, which capped their regular season at 42-14 and 18-12 in conference play. Alabama was eliminated from SEC tournament contention last week, marking the first time since 1987-88 that the Crimson Tide missed it in back-to-back seasons.
The Crimson Tide had one more opportunity in the bottom of the ninth. Catcher Matt Malkin was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and shortstop Jett Manning reached on catcher’s interference to bring the winning run to the plate.
Junior third baseman Cobie Vance, who was 3-for-4 with a walk on the day, was waiting in the on-deck circle.
“I just wanted a chance to end it, simply put,” Vance said. “Once I got on deck I was excited and my heart started racing and whatnot. I’ve never had a walkoff here, so I was kind of thinking at the end I wanted to walk it off.”
Junior Keith Holcombe was 3-for-5 with two RBIs. Seniors Chandler Avant and Connor Short each had two hits in their final collegiate game, including a home run from Short. Junior outfielder Chandler Taylor had two hits also.
Alabama used eight pitchers in the game. Junior Dylan Duarte came on after the rain delay and threw 2 2/3 scoreless innings.
“I’ve said all along that we’ve got great kids,” Bohannon said. “I love our kids. They tried really hard, worked hard and gave us everything they had. That’s all you can ask for. I’m excited to start working for the future, but hate that some of these kids aren’t going to be back next year with graduation and the draft and that type of stuff.”
A handful of veterans went back to their positions on the field after the game ended and the stadium had cleared. Many spent their careers at Alabama with three coaching staffs, finishing just short in Saturday’s loss.
“I hope I’m the coach here for 25 years, and this will always be my first team,” Bohannon said. “This is the third time I’ve been new to a school in this league and by far the best group of people that I’ve had to be able to start with. It went fast and I really appreciate their effort. These kids never gave up. They gave us everything they had from Day 1 and they welcomed us from Day 1. That’s a great quality for them to take into the rest of their lives and something I’ll never forget. I’ll be very appreciative forever.”
Reach Ben Jones at email@example.com or 205-722-0196.