HOOVER, Ala.—Mitch Gaspard said it Wednesday: Alabama is peaking at the right time. For the second straight day, the Crimson Tide played well in all facets of the game and earned a dominating win, this time by a 6-3 score against Mississippi.
Today's hero was 5-foot-6 junior righthander Nathan Kilcrease, who pitched into the ninth inning in just his fourth start of the season after spending most of the year as a bullpen stopper. Kilcrease allowed three runs on nine hits and no walks while striking out three over 8 1/3 innings, before tiring in the ninth and handing off to closer Jake Smith. Smith entered with two runners aboard and one out and Miles Hamblin representing the tying run at the plate. Hamblin, who hit deep homers in each of Alabama's first two games, popped up harmlessly in foul ground, and Smith ended the game by freezing Kevin Mort on a 90 mph fastball over the outside corner.
The most encouraging development for Alabama, though, was Ross Wilson's big day. The preseason All-American has struggled mightily all season and entered the game slugging just .397. Thursday, he went 3-for-3 with a double (remarkably, just his sixth of the year in 196 at-bats) and reached base safely in all five plate appearances. Alabama coach Mitch Gaspard has never lost his faith in Wilson, leaving him in the No. 3 hole despite his struggles with the thinking that the Tide will need him to return to form if they are to make a deep postseason run. Maybe Wilson his finding his stride in the nick of time just like the rest of the Tide.
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