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For eight innings, Chris Ellis dueled Aaron Nola, the Southeastern Conference's leader in strikeouts (84) and earned run average (0.70) to a draw, as he left with the game with the score tied at 2-2.

It was the eighth time in 10 starts that Ellis allowed one earned run or less for the eighth time in 10 starts, as he lowered his earned run average from 1.81 to 1.72. He allowed two runs -- one earned -- on eight hits with two walks and six strikeouts, stranding nine runners on the base paths.

In the other dugout, Nola allowed two runs -- all earned -- on eight hits with two walks and seven strikeouts, as he threw a season-high 121 pitches in 7.2 innings of work. He has yet to allow more than two runs in any of his 10 starts this season.

"Both guys pitched terrific," head coach Mike Bianco said. "For Chris, it might have been his best outing of the year. Certainly, he pitched deep and did a great job with pressure-packed pitches. One of the ways that you beat Nola is you don't let them score. You keep the score low, so if you do scratch across a run or two, that will put you ahead or tie it up and get him out of the game. Certainly, Chris was terrific tonight."

The bullpens traded zeroes with the exception of the 11th, where each team scratched across a run and then the 13th, where LSU strung together a one-out double, followed by a walk, and then a fielding error to score what would be the game-winning run, the second unearned run allowed by Ole Miss during the game. 

"We had opportunities," head coach Mike Bianco said. "We have been on the right side of it several times. Today, it just didn't happen. We didn't get the big hit, we didn't make the big pitch, and we didn't make the play in the field."

"It's baseball," said Sikes Orvis, who went 2-for-5 with a solo home run. "We came out and played tough. We did everything we needed to do. I take that ground ball hit to Errol (Robinson) 9 times out of 10 that you roll it up. Baseball is a funny game. You get kicked in the teeth a lot playing it, but we'll bounce back tomorrow and be alright."

Pitching, Defense Key Rebels To Win

Ole Miss struck early with five runs over the first four innings, which Chris Ellis and Wyatt Short made hold up in a 6-1 win over Mississippi State Friday night at Dudy Noble Field.

The leadoff man for Mississippi State reached base safely in five of the seven innings that Ellis started, but he limited the damage to one run in 6.2 innings, as he scattered eight hits with a walk, two hit batsmen and two strikeouts. It marked the seventh time in nine starts that he allowed no earned runs or one earned run this season.

"He was terrific," head coach Mike Bianco said. "He made pitches when he had to. He looked like he was so in command of the game. I was proud of the way he pitched, better than he's been in a while."

"It felt like every inning they got a leadoff guy on, whether it was beating out an infield single, or I walk a guy, or hit a guy, but it was good to have defense behind me that turned doubles plays and made the big play to get me out of the inning," Ellis said.

A trio of defensive plays in the middle innings highlighted the effort in the field that included just one error and saved at least one run and possibly more. 

"Chris had a great game today, throwing strikes and making it easy on the defense, getting ground balls and double-play balls to get out of innings," Errol Robinson said. "He kept us in the game throwing strikes and not too many walks today."

In the fourth, Preston Overbey knocked a ball down hit to a hole on the right side and then caught the lead runner in a run-down between third base and home for the last out of the inning. 

In the fifth, Robinson and Overbey combined on a 6-4-3 double play to get out of the inning, and then in the eighth, Braxton Lee started the inning defensively with an outfield assist, as he cut the ball off and threw out the runner at second.

"It was a big double play, not just by Errol but also a tough turn," said Bianco of the double play. "They run well. We're not holding the guy at first, so he gets a great jump, and then it's a tough turn for Preston because they're all over him. He makes a great turn and gets out of it." 

Mississippi State threatened again later in the eighth with runners at first and second and two outs. Short, who entered the game the seventh, was behind 3-0 to Wes Rea, and then he battled back to a 3-2 count before getting a lineout to Overbey to end the inning.

"We need that," said Bianco of the defense. "We defended really well up until a few weeks ago, so we need to get back to that."



In game one of last Saturday's doubleheader at No. 1 South Carolina, junior right-hander Josh Laxer allowed three runs in the ninth, as the Gamecocks rallied to win 5-4 in 10 innings.

On Wednesday, Laxer bounced back and earned the save in a 4-3 win for Ole Miss over Arkansas State. He followed that outing with a five-out save, his third save of the season, to close out a 4-3 win over Missouri in the Rebels' SEC home opener Friday night.

"Coach B sat me down after that game, and he said I went in there and did what he wanted me to do, which was throw strikes," said Laxer, referring to the 5-4 loss at South Carolina. "He told me if I wanted to be the closer for this team that I to have to have a short memory, and that's what I tried to do."

"He was terrific," head coach Mike Bianco said. "I'm really proud of him. He's done that basically the whole year."

Missouri had cut the Ole Miss lead from 4-0 to 4-3 on three-straight base hits in the eighth when Bianco called for Laxer out of the bullpen, the Rebels' fourth different pitcher of the inning. He inherited the would-be game-tying run at first with one out.

Laxer struck out the first batter, and senior catcher Will Allen erased the runner at first throwing him out at second on an attempted steal. He came back out for the ninth and worked a scoreless inning, punctuated by his strikeout of the game.

"I was kind of expecting to go in in the ninth, but I'm learning slowly but surely," Laxer said. "I'm not used to coming out of the pen, but you have to get ready fast. That's what I had to do and I did. I was just happy to come in and get outs for my team."

Ole Miss staked a 4-0 lead after three runs in the first and another in the third. Senior third baseman Austin Anderson hit a two-run home run into the right-field bullpen, and junior first baseman Sikes Orvis followed with a solo shot to nearly the same area two batters later in the first.

Down 4-0, Missouri threatened in the fifth with runners at second and third and no outs, but Ellis limited the damage to one run. For the game, Ellis allowed one run -- unearned -- on five hits with two walks and five strikeouts, as he lowered his earned run average from 0.82 to 0.67. 

"It was his best outing in three or four weeks," Bianco said. "He had good command with all three pitches. He got ahead on a lot of hitters."

"Mental toughness is a lot of it," said Ellis of his ability to strand runners this season, including five against Missouri. "(Strength and conditioning coach) Ben Fleming kicking our butts in the weight room helps a lot with it, and not just trying to throw it by people like last year but being able to make pitches."




With John Gatlin's walk-off infield single in the 13th to lift Ole Miss past UCF, 4-3, the Rebels have won three straight games, all in come-from-behind, walk-off fashion, which also included two midweek wins over Louisiana-Monroe.

"During the whole fall, new strength coach Ben Fleming preached toughness and put us through everything that you could imagine to prepare us for these situations," Gatlin said. "Coach Bianco preaches it a lot. Honestly, at this time and in these games, we feel like there's no chance that we're going to lose because we're so prepared for it."

Gatlin was the hero at the plate, but pitching staff also played its part in the win, limiting UCF to three runs on eight hits with seven walks and 12 strikeouts in 13.0 innings of work, highlighted Chris Ellis who got the start and then Preston Tarkington and Josh Laxer out of the bullpen.

"I don't know if we have ever had three walk-off wins a week, and they are games where we are behind and then come back," head coach Mike Bianco said. "The neat thing is it's come from different guy, and I don't mean just offensive heroes. To have those, you got to have some pitching and defensive heroes. There are guys who have difference-makers, and it seems like it's a different guy every night. 

"And there's not a bigger one than Gatlin tonight. He's a fifth-year senior, very selfless, and he's a guy who has battled back from injury and hadn't played baseball in over a year. He comes off the bench and has a great at-bat at the end to win it for you."

On the mound, Ellis extended his earned-run scoreless streak to 22.0 innings to begin the 2014 season, as he allowed just one unearned run on one hit with four walks and five strikeouts in seven innings of work. Through three starts, the Birmingham, Ala., native has allowed just 10 hits with nine walks and 14 strikeouts, which included a complete-game shutout last Saturday against Georgia State.

"He didn't have his best stuff and a few too many walks, but we extended some of those innings with some errors," Bianco said. "That's unfortunate. We made him work a little harder than maybe he should have."

Ellis left with the game tied at 1-1 after seven innings. In the eighth, UCF took a 3-1 lead, but Ole Miss answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning to send the game to the ninth tied at 3-3. UCF threatened again in the ninth and 10th, but the Ole Miss bullpen got big outs to extend the game and eventually give Gatlin and the Ole Miss bats a chance in the 13th.

In the ninth, Tarkington inherited the bases loaded with one out and got an infield fly and a strikeout to end the inning. In the 10th, Laxer entered the game with runners at first and second with one out and got a foul out to third and a strikeout to get out of the inning.

"From there, there was no way that my teammates were going to let there be any other result," said Tarkington of his inning-ending strikeout in the ninth. "We were definitely going to come out and win the game after that happened, and especially when Josh Laxer came in and did the job that he did. That was incredible."

"We had a couple of big spots for the bullpen, one by Tark there in the 9th, and certainly Laxer in the 10th," Bianco said. "That gave us a chance to get some momentum back. It looked like with runners on base, we just couldn't find the hit. We made a little harder than we had to, but I'm proud of the way we competed."

After a scoreless inning from Cheyne Bickel in the top of the 13th, Will Allen led off the bottom of the inning with a hit by pitch on a 2-2 count. Preston Overbey advanced the runner to second on a sacrifice bunt. After another out and a walk to Colby Bortles, Gatlin stepped to the plate with runners at first and third, and he delivered with an infield single to third.

"We had so many guys set that up for us," Gatlin said. "It couldn't have been done without everybody getting on base like that. I saw it hop, and I saw him bobble him once, and I figured he must have bobbled it more than once for me to beat it out. I was running as fast as I could. It had been a while, but it felt good."

Ellis Shines Under Friday Night Lights

After six shutout innings against Stetson in his first Friday start, Chris Ellis followed it up with his first career complete-game shutout, as Ole Miss blanked Georgia State 3-0 Friday at Swayze Field. 

The junior from Birmingham, Ala., allowed just five hits with no walks and four strikeouts in nine scoreless innings. Ellis did allow a runner to reach third base and allowed just two runners in scoring position for the game. He was also efficient on the mound, throwing 67 of his 101 pitches for strikes. He also stayed around 90 mph with his fast ball and touched 91 mph in the ninth inning.

"I like having the beer showers after the game and pitching at night and having all these fans out there," Ellis said. "It's a great atmosphere. It makes it a lot easier to pitch."

"The difference today was a great three-pitch mix," head coach Mike Bianco said. "He was able to throw his change-up into the strike zone early on and was able to throw his fastball in, which was a difference-maker in a lot of at-bats. He was terrific. Even the few times that they threatened, he was able to control the running game and make pitches, and he had terrific defense behind him."

Ole Miss staked a 2-0 lead in the second after Will Jamison singled to right to score Sikes Orvis, and then Preston Overbey came around to score on the throw to second. The Rebels added an insurance run in the fourth on a bases-loaded walk to Braxton Lee, but the first two runs were all Ellis needed.

"In the second inning, Jamison got the big hit," Ellis said. "Once you get a lead, it's a little bit easier to pitch. They start pressing for runs. You let the defense work behind you, and we turned a couple of double plays. We were really sound defensively."

"He was lights out today," Overbey said. "It's fun to play defense behind a guy like that."

Georgia State threatened in the eighth after a leadoff single. A ground ball back to the pitcher advanced the runner, but Ellis got a line out and his fourth strikeout to strand the runner at second. 

With Aaron Greenwood warming up in the bullpen, Bianco stayed with Ellis for the ninth, and he answered with a 1-2-3 inning to close things out.

"The biggest decision was (Ellis) at 88 pitches and having watched the last at-bat against Prain that you knew he could finish instead of struggle through that eighth," Bianco said. "He gives up a first-pitch base hit, and it looked like he cruised after that, so it looked like he was in pretty good control."

"After I finished the eighth, Coach Bianco came up to me and wanted to know if I wanted to finish," Ellis said. "Of course, the competitor in you wants to finish."


Left-handed pitcher Matt Denny and right-handed pitcher Scott Weathersby both represented Ole Miss in collegiate summer baseball league all-star games Wednesday night. They are among several members of the Rebel baseball team participating in summer league ball during the offseason before returning to Ole Miss in the fall.

Weathersby plays for the Southern California Catch of the California Collegiate League. He was named to the South Division All-Star team and picked up the win, as the South All-Stars defeated the North All-Stars, 3-2. Weathersby worked a perfect fifth inning with a strikeout.

The junior right-hander is 4-0 with a 2.08 ERA. He also has 23 strikeouts against six walks in 24.1 innings over seven games as both a starter and reliever. His best outing came against the Academy Barons on July 8 when he allowed just one hit with no walks and six strikeouts in five scoreless innings.

Denny plays for the Baltimore Redbirds of the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League. He was named to the North Division All-Star team but did not appear in the game.

The sophomore left-hander is 2-1 with a 2.66 ERA, which included a 16-inning scoreless streak. He also has 21 strikeouts against eight walks in 23.2 innings over five starts. His best outing came against the Herndon Braves on June 29 when he worked six scoreless innings, allowing just two hits with no walks and five strikeouts.

Another Ole Miss player who has impressed this summer has been junior right-hander Chris Ellis, who plays for the Cotuit Kettleers of the Cape Cod League. He ranks ninth in the league in opponents' batting average and 10th in earned run average.

Ellis is 2-2 with a 2.05 ERA. He also has 20 strikeouts against nine walks in 30.2 innings over six starts, while limiting opposing hitters to a .212 batting average. Among the six starts, he tossed six shutout innings on three separate occasions.

In his best outing, the junior right-hander took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Harwich Mariners on June 21, allowing just one unearned run on one hit with two walks and three strikeouts.


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