TUSCALOOSA — What a difference a year can make. Last year, Alabama pitcher Jimmy Nelson was the goat on Friday night for the Crimson Tide, blowing a two-run lead in the ninth to lose 8-7.
Fast-forward a year, and it’s hard to believe Nelson could have pitched any better.
On Saturday, the Alabama junior pitched what both he and head coach Mitch Gaspard termed his best outing of the season, silencing Ole Miss’ bats in their 4-1 victory.
Nelson not only pitched Alabama’s first complete game since Del Howell‘s on April 18 last season, but he also fanned 11 batters in the process, allowing just one run on four hits and two walks.
Meanwhile, Ole Miss’ Aaron Barrett followed up Drew Pomeranz‘s effectively wild Friday night start with one of his own.
The Ole Miss senior walked eight and struck out seven in 6.2 innings and took a no-hitter into the seventh inning until Alabama center fielder Taylor Dugas broke it up with a bunt single.
Left-hander Matt Tracy earned the loss for Ole Miss, surrendering three runs (two earned) on two hits and two walks in the eighth inning.
HOW THE RUNS WERE SCORED: Alabama finally broke through for a run in the bottom of the seventh, when a double from Jake Smith into the left field corner scored catcher Cody Trotter from third base.
Ole Miss responded with a run of its own in the next frame when Taylor Hashman scored from second base on a single to left field by Matt Smith.
In the bottom of the eighth Alabama blew the doors open in the game.
With Jake Smith on third, a pitch from Tracy got away from catcher Taylor Hightower, allowing the Alabama third baseman to score without a throw to put Alabama ahead 2-1. During the same at-bat, shortstop Josh Rutledge hit a ball through the left side to score Jon Kelton and Dugas.
NO NO-NOs IN A WHILE: The last time Ole Miss threw a no-hitter it was in 1966, when Russ Johnson helped the Rebels defeat Mississippi State 5-0. It was Ole Miss’ fourth no-hitter. Others:
—Sisler Johnson in 1940 (8-0 win vs. Mississippi College).
—Cecil Buford in 1956 (7-0 win vs. Vanderbilt).
—Robert Earl Sidell in 1962 (1-0 win vs. Alabama).
(…in case you were wondering, the last time Alabama was no-hit, it was in 1967 at LSU…)
ALL TIED UP: With Ole Miss’ loss, they are now in a three-way tie with Arkansas and Auburn for first place in the SEC West with 16-10 conference records. Arkansas lost to South Carolina 5-0, while Auburn avenged its lopsided loss from yesterday with a 18-0 shellacking of Tennessee.
NEXT UP: Ole Miss and Alabama will conclude their three-game series on Sunday at 2 p.m.
David Goforth will start for Ole Miss. Goforth is 1-3 on the year with an 8.06 ERA. In 44.2 innings, Goforth has struck out 32 and walked 29. Opponents are also hitting .351 off of him.
Starting for Alabama will be Nathan Kilcrease. The junior right-hander is 4-2 on the year with a 2.52 ERA. In 53.2 innings, he has struck out 54 and walked just 13. Opponents are hitting .203 off of him. On Friday, Kilcrease pitched a scoreless and hitless ninth inning. (May 15, 2010)