The Crimson Tide rallied from a three-run deficit in Thursday’s early SEC elimination game at the Hoover Met, and Mikey White’s two-run single in the top of the 10th inning keyed a 7-5 victory over Ole Miss.
Seventh-seeded Alabama (34-25) will play the Arkansas-LSU loser Friday at 3 p.m. Ole Miss (37-22) awaits Monday’s announcement of the NCAA tournament field.
The Tide also improved to 3-6 in extra-inning games this season, having won two in a row. Alabama scored a crucial 5-4 victory over top-ranked Vanderbilt in a 10-inning game in the final regular-season series.
“Our group, as you can see, is really resilient,” Alabama coach Mitch
Gaspard said. “We’ve had a lot of games like that.
“Rich Davi, our SID, said that was our ninth extra-inning game, which broke a record for us, and, obviously, the last two we’ve figured out a way to win some of them.”
No one was more resilient than White, who swung and missed twice before hitting Ole Miss reliever Brett Huber’s 1-2 pitch up the middle in the 10th inning. The hit scored pinch runner Daniel Cucjen, who came on after Kyle
Overstreet walked, and Ben Moore, who doubled.
“The first two pitches that I swung and missed were both sliders,” said
White, who went 2-for-5 with three RBIs on the day. “I actually thought he was going to try and sneak a fastball by me.
“I was able to keep my hands back, which I wasn’t able to do in the first two swings. I was able to punch it over there.”
White, a freshman from Spain Park, had a miserable regular-season series against Ole Miss, going 0-for-11 in the Tide’s three losses. He called that a “slump time,” and Gaspard said White has made the adjustment to SEC pitching.
“It was just a matter of time,” Gaspard said. “Obviously, he’s a good offensive player. We knew that coming in, but he has not gotten comfortable on both sides of the plate.
“He has the ability to give his best at bat at the most critical times.”
Like White with the 1-2 count, the Tide had to fight back from behind Thursday.
Ole Miss put up a three-run second inning, thanks, in part, to Alabama fielding miscues. Center fielder Georgie Salem’s throw on Will Jamison’s single skipped past catcher Brett Booth, allowing two runs to score on the play.
“Our team fell behind, and our guys did a good job, offensively, of finding swings and getting bats going to get the offense going,” Gaspard said.
Alabama responded with two runs in the fourth inning, one in the fifth and two in the sixth. Highlights included run-scoring singles by White in the fourth and Overstreet in the fifth. Austen Smith drove in a run with a sixth-inning triple.
“Congratulations to Alabama. They got a lot of key and big hits,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “Every time we turned around, someone came up and got a big hit.”
Ole Miss tied it in the seventh, after Alabama starter Spencer Turnbull issued three two-out walks. Reliever Mitch Greer came on and gave up Stuart
Turner’s two-run single before inducing Andrew Mistone’s pop fly to center field.
Turnbull had worked 6 2/3 solid innings but issued as many walks after the second out of the seventh inning as he had all game before that.
“That’s kind of been a typical outing for Spencer in the last month or so,”
Gaspard said. “He kind of gets in a rhythm. He’ll also get out of a rhythm.”
Ole Miss had chances to plate the go-ahead run.
Alabama third baseman Kenny Roberts thwarted an Ole Miss threat in the bottom of the eighth, snagging pinch hitter Will Allen’s line drive then throwing to first to double up Preston Overbey for an inning-ending double play. The Rebels had runners on first and second bases.
The Rebels had the would-be winning run on third base with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, but Alabama reliever Tucker Hawley issued an intentional walk to Turner, a .379 hitter. Hawley then induced a fly ball to center field from Mistone, a .319 hitter.
Hawley (5-2) gave up a one-out single to pinch hitter Holt Perdzock in the bottom of the 10th, but Overbey and pinch hitter Austin Knight popped out.
Hawley allowed just two hits with no walks over three innings to finish off Alabama’s third extra-inning victory of the season and second in a week.
“Throughout the entire year, we have fought and battled,” Hawley said. “Like
Coach Gaspard said, we’ve set a record now for extra-inning games. We’ve got a little bit of confidence going into them.
“We just take everything pitch by pitch, compete and never give up.”
Sports columnist Joe Medley: 256-235-3576, email@example.com. On Twitter @jmedley_star.