Tide hangs on to beat Southern Miss - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Tide hangs on to beat Southern Miss

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. Alabama earned its biggest win of the season as the Crimson Tide defeated No. 21 Southern Mississippi, 10-8, on Tuesday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Starting pitcher Taylor Guilbeau (1-0) threw five innings to earn the win, giving Alabama its first 4-0 start since 2011. The losing pitcher for Southern Miss was freshman starter Jake Winston (0-1), as the Golden Eagles dropped to 3-1 on the season.

"That was certainly a wild finish and that was one thing that we talked to our team about – you have to play nine innings," UA head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "That was something you could see tonight. Obviously in the ninth inning they had a nice comeback, with a couple of miscues by us. The breakdown of the game by me – I thought Taylor Guilbeau gave us the best start that we have had all year. I thought our middle guys did a nice job for us as well and I think in the ninth, if we can keep it clean, I think [Justin] Kamplain is going to get through that with ease – or easier – than it was there."

Senior catcher Brett Booth continued to provide veteran leadership for the club, going 3-for-3 with a single, a double, a home run, a walk, two runs scored and two RBIs. It marks Booth's fourth straight game with at least one RBI. The newcomers played an important role again, as freshman second baseman Kyle Overstreet was 1-for-3 with a double, a walk, was hit by a pitch and had two RBIs. Freshman shortstop Mikey White was 1-for-4 with a single, a hit by pitch, two runs scored and two RBIs.

Sophomore lefty Taylor Guilbeau got the start for the Tide, going five innings, allowing one unearned run on three hits and two walks with seven strikeouts, tying his career-high. Sophomore lefty Justin Kamplain closed out the game for the Tide, allowing three runs in the ninth before striking out Blake Brown to end the game.

"At the end of the day I thought our team played with really good energy," Gaspard said. "I thought we figured out a really good arm on the mound. I thought he was dynamite for three or four innings and our guys found a good rhythm at the plate and again, we scored in bunches from about the fifth to the eighth inning – which is good to see. In the end, we had made defensive plays, had good energy and good rhythm in our lineup – really a good win against a very good opponent tonight in Southern Miss."

White, Overstreet, Booth and freshman center fielder Georgie Salem drove in two runs apiece for the Tide, while freshman left fielder Ryan Blanchard contributed a run of his own. Booth leads the team with six RBIs on the year.

Guilbeau gave up a leadoff double to open the game, and was able to come up with two strikeouts to limit the damage. However, the runner advanced to third on a fly out then scored on a passed ball to get the Golden Eagles on the board first. The matchup was a pitchers' duel early, as Golden Eagles starter Jake Winston did not allowed a hit through three innings.

As Guilbeau continued his strong pitching, the Tide offense would break through in the fourth with more strong play from the freshmen. White set up the Tide's first run after getting hit by a pitch then Overstreet drove him in on the next play with a double to the left field corner. Southern Miss made a strong push to score in the fifth, putting runners on first and third, but Guilbeau dug in and come up with a clutch strikeout and double play to end the threat.

The Tide's offense broke the game open in the fifth. Booth and Baxter got on base with a double and a hit by pitch, respectively, and an error on junior designated hitter Austen Smith's at bat loaded the bases. The three freshmen at the top of the order – Salem, White and Overstreet – all drove in runs for the Tide, with White adding a two run single after an RBI ground ball by Salem kept the bases loaded for White. Combined with defensive errors by the Golden Eagles, the Tide put together a five-run fifth inning, the most runs in an inning for Alabama this season.

The Crimson Tide padded their lead in the sixth inning. Senior third baseman Kenny Roberts led off with a stand-up triple and Booth ripped an RBI single to put Alabama up 7-1.

After Southern Miss rallied to cut the lead to 7-5 in the eighth, the Tide answered with three runs of their own, highlighted by a Booth cruise missile off the scoreboard to put the Tide back up, 10-5, after eight.

The Golden Eagles did not go away and mounted a rally in the ninth, cutting the lead to 10-8, but Kamplain struck out Brown to end the game, giving the Tide their first win over a ranked opponent this season.

The Alabama Crimson Tide returns to action at Florida Atlantic on Friday, February 22, with first pitch scheduled for 5:30 p.m. CT, from the FAU Baseball Stadium.

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