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Rebels drop road series to Alabama

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The No. 8 Ole Miss baseball team fell 7-2 to Alabama in the rubber match of a conference series Sunday afternoon at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The Crimson Tide (22-14, 8-7 Southeastern Conference) used a six-run fifth inning to take game three over the Rebels (26-10, 7-8 SEC).

Sophomore Tate Blackman and freshman Ryan Olenek both had 2-for-4 days to pace the Ole Miss bats. Blackman earned his team-leading 13th multi-hit game of the season, while Olenek collected his seventh. Seven different Rebels recorded hits to bring the team total to nine during the afternoon.

Making his first appearance in two weeks, starting pitcher Sean Johnson allowed only one run in four innings of work. Andy Pagnozzi (5-2) suffered just his second loss of the season as Alabama tagged three runs off the freshman in the fifth.

The Crimson Tide tallied 11 hits on the afternoon, including three by Cobie Vance. Chandler Avant went 2-for-5 with two RBI, and designated hitter Connor Short added a pair of hits as well. Nick Eicholtz (3-1) picked up the victory on the mound, giving up one run on six hits through 6.0 innings.

Alabama tried to strike in the first, but superb defense by the Rebels prevented the Crimson Tide from succeeding. Vance led off the inning with an infield single on a diving stop by Will Golsan. A passed ball and a grounder to shortstop allowed Vance to move all the way to third with just one out. Johnson walked Chandler Taylor to set up a double play situation, and the Ole Miss starter forced a groundball by cleanup hitter Cody Henry. Blackman and Errol Robinson started the turn before Golsan made an impressive stretch at first to complete the quick 4-6-3 double play and get the Rebels out of the inning unscathed.

The Crimson Tide put the game’s first run on the board in the bottom of the second. Two hits and a walk loaded the bases with one out. Ole Miss nearly got out of the inning again, but Hunter Webb beat out an attempt at a double play to keep the inning alive and plate a run. However, that’s all Alabama would get as Johnson picked off Webb at first on the ensuing at-bat, ending the inning with a lone run.