BLOG: Hello from sunny Oxford, Miss., where the Ole Miss Rebels (14-4 overall) are set to host the Alabama Crimson Tide (11-6) at Oxford-University Stadium to open Southeastern Conference play.The Tide will send senior right-hander Nathan Kilcrease, lovingly nicknamed “Peanut,” to the mound. The 5-foot-6, 160-pounder is 2-0 this year with a 2.22 ERA. He also boasts a 30-to-5 strike-to-walk ratio in 24.1 innings pitched.
Returning to Oxford with the Tide will be former Oxford Charger standout Charley Sullivan. Sulivan has been a go-to releiver for Alabama this season and boasts a 3.27 ERA and a 0-1 record in six appearances (11.0 IP). He has struck out 11 and walked two, but opponents are hitting a robust .346 off of him.
Taking the mound for Ole Miss will be junior left-hander Matt Crouse.
Crouse is 4-0 in four appearances this season with a 1.67 ERA. He also has struck out 22 and walked two in 27.0 innings with opponents hitting just .204 against him.
Crouse, like several other pitchers on the Ole Miss staff, is having a stellar season for Ole Miss after harnessing his curveball during the offseason.
OLE MISS (14-4 overall, 0-0 SEC)
CF Tanner Mathis .313 BA
2B Alex Yarbrough .308
1B Matt Smith .264
DH Matt Snyder .323
RF Matt Tracy .348
C Miles Hamblin .273
3B Austin Anderson .300
LF Zach Kirksey .250
SS Blake Newalu .340
LHP Matt Crouse (4-0; 1.67 ERA)
ALABAMA (11-6, 0-0)
CF Taylor Dugas .361
C Brock Bennett .431
SS Jared Reaves .417
DH Josh Rosecrans .244
1B Austen Smith .235
2B Jon Kelton .238
RF Brandt Hendricks .222
LF Andrew Miller .268
3B Brett Booth .222
RHP Nathan Kilcrease (2-0; 2.22)
Ole Miss 4, Alabama 0 (BOTTOM 5): Following a Miles Hamblin single and a sacrifice bunt by Austin Anderson, Zack Kirksey blasted Ole Miss onto the scoreboard with a two-run homer over the 365-foot mark in left-center field. Two at-bats later, Blake Newalu scored from first base on what started as a routine single to right field off the bat of Tanner Mathis. Right fielder Brandt Hendricks booted the ball while charging in and lost sight of it. That error allowed Newalu to score and Mathis to slide into third base safely. Following a strikeout by Alex Yarbrough, Mathis scored courtesy of an error by second baseman Jon Kelton on a weakly hit ball by Matt Smith.
The four-run fourth would be the only frame that saw runners cross the plate. Alabama would get two runners on in the ninth, but closer Jake Morgan was able to get the final two batters out to solidify a 1-0 record in the SEC.
Morgan pitched the final 2.1 innings, allowing four hits while striking out three to record his fifth save of the season.
Matt Crouse lasted 6.2 innings on the mound for Ole Miss, striking out seven while allowing just three hits to improve to 5-0 on the year.
Alabama starter Nathan “Peanut” Kilcrease was hit with the loss, allowing four runs (two earned) on five hits and one walk in 7.0 innings of work.
Ole Miss and Alabama will face off at 2 p.m. tomorrow on SportSouth.
Right-hander David Goforth (0-2, 2.42 ERA) will start for Ole Miss, while Alabama will send LHP Adam Morgan (2-1, 3.74) to the bump. (March 18, 2011)