OXFORD, Miss. – Tanner Mathis delivered the clutch hit expected from a senior on Sunday afternoon, coming up with a bases-loaded single in the 11th inning to deliver a 4-3 win as No. 18 Ole Miss (26-10, 7-8 SEC) picked up a series sweep of No. 22 Alabama (22-16, 8-7 SEC).
Mathis’ hit gave the Rebels a sweep in conference play for the first time this season, the second sweep of a nationally-ranked team this season and second series win over a nationally-ranked team in conference play this season.
With the bases loaded and one out on the board, the senior outfielder delivered a line drive over the infield and into left field to bring home Lance Wilson from third and give the Rebels the win.
Brett Huber (3-1) entered the game to start the 11th and kept the Crimson Tide off the board to allow Ole Miss the chance to get the win in the bottom half of the inning.
Ray Castillo (2-1) took the loss in relief, allowing two runs on six hits with three walks and a strikeout over the final 4.1 innings.
“I’m proud of the guys,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “It obviously wasn’t our best game. We made some mistakes. We didn’t execute on a few things, but they played hard today. They were locked in from the first pitch and going full speed. A lot of times you challenge them on Sundays because it’s the third day. It gets a little stale. It’s the same team for the third day in a row. Our guys played so hard today.
“I’m proud of all of the pitchers that came in,” Bianco said. “It seemed like everybody was able to get a big out for us and get out of an inning. You couldn’t be happier for a guy like Tanner (Mathis). He deserves that. He’s had a tough year statistically to this point. He’s a grinder and a guy you want up in that situation. You know he’s not going to strike out, and he’s going to move the ball.”
Ole Miss scored first on the afternoon with a pair of RBI singles from Austin Anderson and Andrew Mistone. Tanner Mathis and Auston Bousfield led things off with a walk and a single before the Anderson hit scored Mathis and put the Rebels on the board. A walk of Stuart Turner loaded the bases and set up the RBI single from Mistone to put Ole Miss on top 2-0 after the first inning.
Rebel starter Sam Smith kept the Crimson Tide off the board through his 4.1 innings of work, before the Crimson Tide would finally scratch out a run in the sixth inning. Andrew Miller came home from third on a groundout to third from Kenny Roberts that cut the lead in half at 2-1.
Alabama took the lead in the eighth inning on a pair of unearned runs to grab the first lead of the weekend for the Crimson Tide. A throwing error and a single on back-to-back hits to short put the first two men on base before a one-out walk loaded the bags for Alabama. A sac fly from Andrew Miller tied the game, then Chase Vincent delivered an RBI single up the middle to put Alabama on top before the Rebels would get out of the inning.
Ole Miss answered in the bottom of the eighth, with another big hit from Mistone. The third baseman came to the plate with two on and two outs and singled through the left side to score Holt Perdzock from second and knot the score at three.
The Rebels then picked up the win in the 11th when Mathis came up with the bases-loaded hit to score pinch runner Lance Wilson and complete the series sweep.
Sikes Orvis started the final inning with a single through the right side and was replaced on the base path by Wilson. Cameron Dishon reached after laying down a bunt that hit the dirt in front of the plate and kicked high on the bounce before falling in safely between three converging Alabama fielders. Stuart Turner then drew a walk to load the bases and put the pressure on the visiting Tide.
Alabama struck out the next Rebel hitter to get an out on the board, but the lineup flipped back to the top of the order. Mathis then came to the plate and connected on the first pitch to drive in the winning run.
Ole Miss will return to action on Monday with the first game in a six-game road swing when the Rebels face Memphis at AutoZone Park. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m