Alabama finishes sweep of Ole Miss

Published 11:30 am Monday, March 31, 2014

Ole Miss is, officially, in its first slump of the season.

Alabama’s Jon Keller allowed one run and struck our eight batters in a complete-game victory, and the Crimson Tide finished a three-game sweep of Ole Miss with a 3-1 victory Sunday in Tuscaloosa.

It was the fourth consecutive loss for Ole Miss (21-8, 4-5 Southeastern Conference), which had only lost back-to-back games once before this week.

“It’s been a bad week where we’ve lost all kinds of ways,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “We did not hit well today or give ourselves a shot offensively.”

Unlike the first two games in the series, when Ole Miss’ pitching was unable to take advantage of ample run support, it was the Rebels’ hitters who came up short in Sunday’s finale.

Ole Miss took an early 1-0 lead when Colby Bortles walked and scored on a double play in the second inning, but that was all for the offense.

The Rebels had seven hits, hit into two double plays and had a runner thrown out trying to steal second.

Keller worked around the hits and three walks to stay a step ahead all day.

“Jon Keller did a great job today. As the game got deeper, he got stronger,” Alabama coach Mitch Gaspard said. “I had to make a decision in the ninth, as he was around 100 pitches, but you could see it in his eyes that he wanted that game and he wanted to finish it.”

Ole Miss’ lack of offensive production made a hard-luck loser out of pitcher Sam Smith.

Smith allowed three runs in the fourth inning —­ Mikey White hit a solo home run, Wade Wass had an RBI single, and another run came in on a fielder’s choice ­­— but that was it.

Smith scattered eight hits over 6 2/3 innings. He walked none and struck out three.

“Sam was terrific all day with the exception of the one inning, but then he buckled down and still gave us a shot to win. That’s what he does for us each Sunday,” Bianco said.

Florida Atlantic 3, Southern Miss 1

Southern Miss gained a bit of ground in the Conference USA race this weekend, but was unable to secure its first sweep of the season.

Florida Atlantic’s Tyler Rocklein hit a two-run home run and pitcher Drew Jackson carried a shutout into the ninth inning as the Owls topped Southern Miss in Sunday’s series finale.

Southern Miss (15-13, 6-3 Conference USA) had already won the series by taking the first two games, but had its four-game winning streak snapped.

Southern Miss has won each of its first three conference series.

Rocklein’s home run in the third inning put Florida Atlantic (15-12, 4-8) ahead 2-0, and C.J. Chatham brought in another run with a fielder’s choice in the fourth.

Jackson took it from there. He struck out seven, walked two, and gave up six hits in 8 2/3 innings.

Three of the hits — the last an RBI single by Autin Roussel — came in the ninth inning. Roussel’s hit finally knocked Jackson out of the game, but reliever Bo Logan got Nick Dawson to pop up for the final out.