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OMAHA, Neb. -- Through two games at the College World Series, Ole Miss has just six hits in 57 at-bats and scored three runs. 

Part of the offensive outage has been expansive TD Ameritrade Park, part of it has been the howling wind that has been blowing in from center field and part of it has been two terrific pitching performances from Virginia's Nathan Kirby and Texas Tech's Ryan Moseley.

Besides Vanderbilt, which has scored a combined 11 runs in wins over Louisville and UC Irvine, no team has scored more than five runs in Omaha, as all eight teams have combined to average just 2.7 runs through eight games.

"We knew it was big, but we have been having a hurricane coming in straight from center field, so it's been tough," said junior first baseman Sikes Orvis, who is second in the Southeastern Conference and seventh nationally with 14 home runs on the season.

"Personally, it's knocking me off my game a little bit. When I get in hitter's counts, I usually try to pull something or drive something, but if I do that, it's just going to get knocked down, so I have been trying to go the other way and hit line drives. We'll adjust. Everybody has to deal with this; it's not just us. It's made for a lot of low-scoring games, so I'm sure the fans are ready for some offense."

The park and the wind has been good for pitchers, particularly for those who have filled up the strike zone, as junior right-hander Sam Smith looks to do in his start Thursday against TCU. As a pitching staff, Ole Miss has allowed just three runs on 15 hits with six walks and 11 strikeouts over 17.2 innings in Omaha.

"Use the ballpark to your advantage and fill up the zone," Smith said. "Guys are going to hit balls hard, but somehow they get caught in the wind. We have a really fast outfield, so they get caught a lot of times."

Same Spot, Different Week for Smith

Like sophomore left-hander Christian Trent, who has helped extend the Rebels' season in each of his last two starts, junior right-hander Sam Smith looks to do the same for the second straight week in Thursday's elimination game against TCU.

Smith has not pitched past the fifth inning in each of his last two starts, but he has given his team an opportunity, limiting Washington to two runs (both unearned) on six hits through 4.2 innings, and limiting Louisiana-Lafayette to three runs (two unearned) on six hits through 3.2 innings.

It has been a nice bounce-back for Smith after a tough stretch of outings against Kentucky, Arkansas, Texas A&M and Arkansas again at the SEC Tournament. 

"He's a guy who always gives us an opportunity to win," head coach Mike Bianco said. "It seems like he always goes out there and does a great job for us. Sometimes it's in the middle innings but that's because the game that he pitches is so important. 

"When he pitches on Sunday, that's usually to win the weekend. And depending on how much we have in the bullpen, sometimes we make the move in the fourth, fifth or sixth inning. He's been great for us in this role."

Earlier this season, Smith had another stretch of eight quality starts, but if he's not able to pitch deep, he will have a fresh bullpen behind him, thanks to a light workload through two games and the day off Wednesday.

"We had a healthy bullpen my last few starts, so coach had no hesitation to take me out and get someone else in," Smith said. "We have a lot of guys in the bullpen who are capable. My mindset is to go as far and as hard as I can to give us a shot to win."

More Familiarity than Rivalry

For Ole Miss and TCU, it's their ninth meeting in three years and their fourth meeting in the NCAA Tournament.

The schools played twice in the regular season in 2012, splitting the games in Fort Worth, Texas. 

They met again in the 2012 NCAA College Station Regional, with Ole Miss winning the opening game, and then TCU winning two elimination games to advance to the Super Regional. 

They met once again to open the 2013 season with Ole Miss sweeping the three-game weekend series in Oxford.

"We played them in the regional my freshman year, and then we opened up with them last year, and now we're playing them again, so we can't seem to get away from these guys," junior first baseman Sikes Orvis said. "It's exciting. You see guys who were freshmen when you were a freshman, and you see them grow and get older. It's cool. We have built a little rivalry, so it will be cool to play them on this stage."

There's also familiarity between Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco and TCU head coach Jim Schlossnagle from when Bianco was an assistant coach at LSU (1993-97) and Schlossnagle was associate head coach at Tulane (1994-2001). 

Their relationship has continued over the years, including the 2013 summer with the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, where Bianco was the pitching coach and Schlossnagle was the head coach.

"We have played them through the years," head coach Mike Bianco said. "You play them a lot in postseason because they're very good. It's certainly a team that we have a tremendous amount of respect for. It's a team that can really pitch. The difference this year for them is they're more offensive than they have been in the last couple of years."

More on TD Ameritrade Park Debate: Why is it so difficult to score runs at the CWS?, writes Jon Nyatawa from the Omaha World-Herald


 

Trent Answers The Bell For Rebels

OMAHA, Neb. -- With runs at a premium at cavernous TD Ameritrade Park, every pitch takes on added importance, and you could feel it with sophomore left-hander Christian Trent, as he kept making pitches to get out of innings.

Looking to match Bobby Wahl's perfect 10-0 mark from last season, he took an unlucky no-decision, but he went eight strong innings to help set up a dramatic 2-1 walk-off win over Texas Tech.

"He's done that all year long," head coach Mike Bianco said. "He's undefeated. He hasn't had a bad outing all year long even in the games he hasn't won. He's gotten no-decisions. He's been terrific. Our guys have that confidence. Even though we lose the first game, I don't know if there's another better guy in the country to run out there in game two than Christian."

"It's another awesome performance by him," senior catcher Will Allen said. "He did a great job, especially with the offense taking a while to get going and scoring him some runs. Staying out there for as long as he did and really keeping them off-balance. Even when they got on base, he shut it down. We got a couple of clutch double plays that helped out. He's done that all year. He's like a second ace out there. He's very composed and very competitive and just goes about his business."

Trent credited his fastball command and making good use of his slider and changeup, as he scattered six hits with one walk and six strikeouts over eight innings. He was especially dominant with runners on base, stranding six runners on the base paths and holding Texas Tech hitless with runners on base (0-for-12) and runners in scoring position (0-for-6).

"It's more of a mindset that you have to lock things down when they get runners on, especially in scoring position," Trent said. "It's time to make the pitches and focus a lot harder on what you're doing. It's a little bit of a tighter window when you're throwing into the glove, and I just felt like I was able to use all three pitches, like I said, when I needed to. I think it worked out well for me."

With eight shutout innings against Texas Tech, he has allowed just two runs -- one earned -- on 15 hits with four walks and 19 strikeouts over 21.1 innings in NCAA Tournament play.

OMAHA, Neb. --Ole Miss faced the same situation just eight days ago: Win or go home. 

And like game two of the super regional against UL Lafayette, sophomore left-hander Christian Trent will get the ball looking to give his team an opportunity extend their season.

"He's been the guy all year in that No. 2 spot," head coach Mike Bianco said. "You feel good with him obviously. He's undefeated and he's a guy who's always answered the bell in that Saturday game, where either you needed to win the series, or after a tough Friday night loss the guy who's been able to give us a great opportunity to get back into it. He's the right man for the job for sure."

Trent is 9-0 with a 2.21 ERA in 102.0 innings entering Tuesday's elimination game against Texas Tech. In that game against UL Lafayette, Trent allowed only an unearned run on four hits with two walks and seven strikeouts through 7.0 innings of work, as the Rebels won 5-2.

"It's like another ace," senior catcher Will Allen said. "He's unbelievable. He's done a great job the whole year. You see in those big games he steps up and brings it. He was lights out at ULL and that's one of the best offenses in the country. That gives us a tremendous chance to win because we know that he's going to hold them pretty good for the majority of the game."

He is expected to start opposite left-hander Dylan Dusek, a Freshman All-American selection for the Red Raiders. Dusek is 8-0 with a 1.94 ERA in 74.1 innings pitched. 

Dusek also carries a 23.2 scoreless innings streak dating back to April 27 against Oklahoma, which included 8.0 scoreless against Miami (Fla.) and 5.0 scoreless against College of Charleston in the NCAA Tournament.

Virginia pitching held Ole Miss to one run on one hit, its lowest hit total of the season. The Rebels had just four base runners, manufacturing its only run on back-to-back walks, a sacrifice bunt and an RBI groundout. 

"We try to concentrate on doing what we do," Bianco said. "That doesn't mean that we won't tweak a few things. We're going to be aggressive and try to make things happen. We tried to do that last night, but we just didn't have any base runners. We tried to hit and run and got a terrible pitch for Preston (Overbey). We didn't have a lot of opportunities. Hopefully, we'll have a lot more opportunities on Tuesday."

"We need to be aggressive and keep doing what we have been doing the whole year," Allen said. "We're a really good team and we're a really good offense, but we ran into a good pitcher, who kept us off balance last night... We hit some balls hard right at people. That's baseball. We have to keep doing what we have been doing the whole year. We're a tough team. We have bounced back before."

Allen said they remain a loose, relaxed group and are ready to get back after it on Tuesday against Texas Tech. Bianco shares a similar confidence in the Rebels.

"I would be very surprised if they haven't been like they have been all year," Bianco said. "They have always answered the bell."

More on Texas Tech probable starting pitcher Dylan Dusek: Dusek already survived to advance, writes Mitch Sherman from ESPN.com

 


Picked to finish sixth in the SEC Western Division, junior right-hander Chris Ellis knew it was possible to advance to the College World Series and be in position to play for a national championship during intersaquad scrimmages early in the year.

Ellis said they didn't know if they were struggling to pitch, or they could hit really well, and it turned out they could hit really well, so they figured out pretty early in the season they were going to be a special team.

It turned out they could pitch it pretty well too.

The pitching staff holds a 2.72 ERA, which is fourth-best among College World Series teams and 16th best nationally, led by the one-two punch of junior right-hander Chris Ellis (10-2, 2.45) and sophomore left-hander Christian Trent (9-0, 2.21).

"It's definitely surprising," senior third baseman Austin Anderson said. "We knew they were good. Up until this season, Ellis was a great pitcher and he had a great stuff, but he never defined himself, and this spring, he was a third-round draft pick and he's been dominant all year. 

"We knew Trent was good and at LSU previously, but he was new, and we didn't know how good he would really be. They have made key contributions and they are one of the main reasons we're here."

Ellis and Trent are the latest in a long line of ace starting pitchers, having stepped into weekend rotation spots vacated by Bobby Wahl and Mike Mayers, who were selected in last year's MLB First-Year Player Draft. 

"At first, it was intimidating. I didn't know what to expect," said Ellis, a third-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Angels. "After I got the first SEC win out of the way at South Carolina and figured out that my offense could help me and I didn't have to do it by myself. It was exciting from then out because I knew I could trust people behind me to make plays and score runs."

"It was exciting," said Trent, a 20th-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers. "You know coming you have spots to fill. When I got recruited, Coach (Carl) Lafferty said we needed weekend guys, and we want you to be a weekend guy. It's fun coming in and stepping in and be given such a role. It's an honor."

Pitching and command, more than velocity, head coach Mike Bianco said, separates this year's pitching staff from previous teams. Ellis has a power arm, Bianco continued, but he has success because he pitches with command and throws three different pitches in the strike zone, while Trent has had success with his fastball, change-up and slider, depending on the start. 

More than anything, confidence has gotten them to this point.

"The confidence in my defense, our hitting and coach's pitch-calling," said Trent, who admitted he has never shaken Bianco off. "He told me before I went out there in the Supers that we were going to throw straight fast balls. I didn't disagree with it. That's what I did, and it worked. I have complete trust in Coach B calling pitches and Will (Allen) behind the plate. It's great to have that kind of confidence in your team."

More on Bianco's pitch-calling system: Trust, track record important in pitch selection, writes Chase Parham from Rebel Grove/Rivals.com

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The Rebels got a terrific outing from Christian Trent, followed by some timely hitting in the seventh and eighth innings to lift the Rebels to 5-2 win over UL Lafayette and force a third and decisive game Monday at 6 p.m.

With his team's back against the wall, Trent stayed in the moment and gave his team a much-needed lift on the mound, as he allowed only an unearned run on four hits with two walks and seven strikeouts over seven innings.

"It was pretty normal," said Trent of his approach with Ole Miss facing elimination. "It's a different kind of pressure, knowing that you have to do it for your team and this could be the last game. My routine stayed the same. I felt the same going out there. I had nerves with the first couple of pitches but that's every game I pitch. Nothing really changed that much."

"He was terrific. The whole game he went head to head with him," said Bianco of Trent matching UL Lafayette starting pitcher Carson Baranik. "Both guys pitched terrific. He had great fast ball command. He was able to locate the fast ball in and out. I'm proud of him. After last night, we needed that. It was one of those nights where we needed lifts from different people, and certainly for seven innings, Christian was terrific. Not a ton of offense tonight because their guy was just as good. The few chances that we had, we were able to put some runs across."

He left with the game tied 1-1, before Preston Overbey gave him a 2-1 lead with a two-out, solo home in the bottom of the seventh. UL Lafayette tied the game with a two-out RBI single in the eighth, but the Rebels had another answer, a decisive one, in the bottom of the inning.

Auston Bousfield led off the inning with a single. After a pitching change for ULL, Austin Anderson worked a full count and drew a walk. Ole Miss went ahead for good on a fielding error in center field, which allowed Bousfield to come around and score. And then pinch-hitter Colby Bortles delivered the big hit of the inning, a 2-RBI single, to push the lead to 5-2.

"We have been in that situation many times," Overbey said. "We knew it was a matter of time before we exploded. We came back in the dugout and told everyone to stay up and stay positive. Get a guy on and see what happens."

The win sets up a date with history, as Ole Miss looks to get back to the College World Series for the fifth time in school history and the first time since 1972. Sam Smith will get the start on the mound, and Bianco said the bullpen is about as fresh as it can be for a third game.

"We were a little tight yesterday for whatever reason," Bianco said. "I don't know if it was nerves. We didn't take a good pregame in and out. We didn't take a good pregame batting practice. Today, we seemed more like ourselves, a little more relaxed. Hopefully, we'll be like that tomorrow."

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As he has so often this season, senior right-hander Aaron Greenwood rose to the occasion and made big pitches in big spots, working the final 2.2 innings to close out a 2-1 win over Washington in the winners' bracket at the NCAA Oxford Regional.

Sophomore left-hander Christian Trent tossed a gem in his own right, having not pitched in 16 days after he was scratched from his start in the SEC Tournament last week. He left with a 2-1 lead in the seventh before turning things over to Greenwood. With the win, Trent improved to 9-0, giving up just one run on five hits with a walk and six strikeouts in 6.1 innings.

"It was definitely nice having the rest," Trent said. "I was definitely ready to get out there after being off for a start and plus my last start was seven days before that. It felt really good to get back out there and help my team win."

Greenwood inherited runners at second and third with one out after Washington cut the lead to 2-1 on an RBI single from junior outfielder Robert Pehl.

"When we got to the point with the guy at third, Aaron's done that so much in his career," head coach Mike Bianco said. "Not just this year, but so much, coming in with a guy at third base and getting the big strikeout. Although statistically he may look like a strikeout guy, he's a command guy. And he can raise his game. He gets that adrenaline and the fastball gets harder and the slider gets harder and sharper, and that's what we needed."

He struck out the first batter and got a lineout to second base for the third out, stranding the runners at second and third to preserve a 2-1 lead.

"On the mound visit, Coach B told us we really needed a strikeout to hold the guy at third base and not let them put the ball in play to give them a chance to score," Greenwood said. "I was thinking, 'Nothing good to hit. Low in the zone. Get ahead early.' I threw a slider away to strike him out. The next guy, when you get two, you're thinking the same thing: keep pounding the zone. Finally I got the line out to Preston (Overbey), and Preston made a great play."

Washington mounted a two-out rally in the eighth with a walk, followed by a bloop single to shallow center field before Greenwood shut the door again on the Huskies with an inning-ending strikeout. 

Greenwood closed things out with a perfect ninth, including a pair of strikeouts, for his fourth save of the season. The Byhalia, Mississippi, native allowed just one hit and one walk in 2.2 scoreless innings.

"The crowd was terrific today, even in a pitchers' duel," Bianco said. "They really sense that and sense every play and pulled Aaron through."

"I had to calm myself down at times, especially playing in front of these great fans, 10,000 people," Greenwood said. "They're awesome. They were unbelievable today. It's amazing, especially being a hometown guy to go out there and play for the team I always grew up loving. It was awesome."

Through two games in regional play, Ole Miss has used just three pitchers, ahead of the regional championship game against the Washington-Georgia Tech winner at 2 p.m. on Monday and a potential if necessary game at 7 p.m. on Monday. Junior right-hander Sam Smith is expected to get the start for the Rebels.

"We have the pitching depth, but the disappointing thing is, if you don't win this game, you are looking at 27 more innings to get through without extra innings just to win it," Bianco said. "It's nice that you can stay in line with a normal weekend. It's all about winning the next game, and the players know that."


Chris Ellis, one of 21 semifinalists for the Golden Spikes Award honoring the nation's top player, will get the start for Friday's NCAA regional opener against Jacksonville State, head coach Mike Bianco said Tuesday.

Despite suffering his first loss of the season against Arkansas at the SEC Tournament, Ellis has turned in a quality start in each of his last seven outings. Ellis has formed a strong 1-2 punch on the mound with Christian Trent, as they have combined for a 17-1 record through the regular season and SEC Tournament. 

Ellis ranks eighth in the SEC in ERA (2.17), while Trent ranks 13th (2.44). Trent also ranks 10th in strikeouts (67) and third in fewest walks allowed (16).

Trent was scratched from an SEC Tournament start against Vanderbilt last Thursday due to arm stiffness but is healthy and scheduled to pitch in the regional this weekend.

"He was fine," head coach Mike Bianco said. "We didn't want to make a big deal of it. On short rest, we didn't want to push him and get him to a point where maybe he wasn't at his best this week. We wanted him to throw, but we weren't willing to push it at that point. When we got to Friday before the Arkansas game, he did his throwing and felt great. He would have started that Saturday and I would have put him on normal rest for this week. He threw a bullpen, felt great and is ready to go."

"I'm good," Trent said. "It was a little bit of fatigue but I threw a pen on Saturday and everything is great. There are no worries there. I'm ready to throw. There was no arm pain, just fatigue and after talking to coach (Bianco), obviously regional play is most important."

In Trent's place, Jeremy Massie got the spot start against Vanderbilt, his eighth start of the season, and worked 4.1 innings with one run on four hits with three walks and three strikeouts, as the Rebels went on to defeat the Commodores by a score of 7-2. Massie holds a 2.34 ERA over 53.1 innings this season, having split time as a starter and in the bullpen.

"It gives you flexibility, but you don't know how you're going to use him," Bianco said. "He's certainly one of our main guys out of the bullpen. Can he start? Sure. A lot of it will depend on the weekend and where you go to how you use him."

Before the SEC Tournament, Bianco talked about the team's pitching depth, particularly in the bullpen. That depth played itself out over the three games in Hoover, Alabama with five different relievers seeing action, including two appearances by Josh Laxer. Including Massie, seven different relievers have appeared in at least 15 games, and they hold a combined 2.32 ERA over 209.1 innings.

"The good thing about the SEC Tournament was we got just about everybody in, just short of a couple of guys that we were saving for the next day in (Evan) Anderson and (Matt) Denny, but all the other relievers got in, and everyone pitched well," Bianco said. "Over the past few weeks with no midweek games, it's been tough with guys like (Josh) Laxer and (Wyatt) Short, who have seemed to not pitch as much. Laxer got in twice, and although it was a little tougher for Short in his outing, at least he got out there.

"You want to win the tournament, but one of the biggest things is how it prepares you for this tournament. I was happy with how we used the pitching and how much everyone got in."

For the sixth time in program history, Ole Miss was selected to host an NCAA Baseball Regional. The Rebels (41-18) open regional play Friday with No. 4 seed Jacksonville State (36-25), with No. 2 seed Washington (39-15-1) and No. 3 seed Georgia Tech (36-25) in the other matchup. 

The Gamecocks have a top-100 RPI with a 1-2 record against SEC teams this season (win over Mississippi State, two losses to Alabama). The Huskies finished second in the Pac-12 conference and narrowly missed a regional hosting spot, while the Yellow Jackets finished ninth in the ACC and won the tournament championship this past week.

The Oxford Regional is paired with the Lafayette Regional, hosted by No. 6 national seed Louisiana-Lafayette (53-7), as well as No. 2 seed Mississippi State (37-22), No. 3 seed San Diego State (42-19) and No. 4 seed Jackson State (31-23).

 Head coach Mike Bianco

 Sophomore left-hander Christian Trent

Junior outfielder Auston Bousfield

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Amid regional host and national seed discussion, 10th-ranked and second-seeded Ole Miss opens Southeastern Conference Tournament play Wednesday against seventh-seeded Arkansas. The Rebels are squarely on the national seed bubble after finishing the regular season 40-16 overall and 19-11 in SEC play.

Ole Miss will start junior right-hander Chris Ellis Wednesday against Arkansas, followed by sophomore left-hander Christian Trent on Thursday against third-seeded LSU or sixth-seeded Vanderbilt. 

Ellis enters Wednesday with a 9-0 record and 2.12 earned run average with 52 strikeouts and 28 walks in 89.0 innings. He has also posted six consecutive quality starts, including a win over Arkansas on May 2.

"It definitely wouldn't hurt to win a couple of games," senior catcher Will Allen said. "Obviously, we're not going to go down there and not try to win. As long as we're playing baseball, we're going to do the best we can. If we play well and do what we can and make a run in the tournament that would definitely help. It's up in the air, and we'll see."

With a series win at Texas A&M, Ole Miss moved up two spots to No. 13 in this week's official RPI rankings. Fellow SEC national seed contenders Vanderbilt, which Ole Miss might face in an SEC Tournament matchup Thursday, and South Carolina are ranked Nos. 6 and 8, respectively.

"You can't control what they do or how they're playing, but as long as keep playing well, we'll make a run at a national seed," senior third baseman Austin Anderson said. "All we can do is play well and win. If you start looking at that, you get distracted from what we're trying to do. Although it would be great to be a national seed and host a Super Regional, as long we keep winning, it doesn't matter where we play, we'll make it to Omaha."

For Allen and Anderson, they have achieved two team goals for the first time in their four-year careers: win 40 games and claim an SEC Western Division Championship. Other goals, however, remain ahead of them, as they want to finish strong and leave their legacy, individually and as a team.

"It's something we have been focused on the whole year," said Allen of the national seed talk. "One of our goals is to host a Regional and host a Super Regional. You have to take it game-by-game and really focus on the task at hand. Right now, we have the SEC Tournament. It would be really cool win an SEC Championship. None of us here now have done that, so we would love to do that."


Rebels Rolling Entering Hoover

Ole Miss left Tuscaloosa with a 4-5 record in SEC play, having just been swept at Alabama and having lost two of three at South Carolina two weekends previously.

From there, the Rebels have gone 15-6 in SEC play, including four straight series wins to end the regular season. The 21-game stretch also included weekend sweeps of Auburn and Kentucky and just one series loss, at home against LSU.

"Last year, we had a pretty good year, but we seemed to be dying out at the end and lost two of three at LSU," Anderson said. "At Hoover, we won our first game and then lost the next two. It seems like the team is playing well and we have a lot of confidence going into the postseason."

The Rebels have also shown an ability to bounce back this season. Ole Miss is 10-5 after losses, including a 7-1 mark since the 4-5 start in SEC play. They look to continue the trend coming off a 9-6 loss at Texas A&M in the regular season finale.

"Throughout the year, we have lost some close games," Allen said. "It seems like the next game we bounce back. I don't know the record off the top of my head, but it seems like after the games we have lost and the next game we play, we get right back on track. That's huge. To not really go through too many peaks and valleys but just consistently play, we have been able to do that this year."


Allen Wins Regular-Season Batting Title

Will Allen won the SEC regular-season batting title, with a .359 average, edging Kentucky's A.J. Reed by percentage points. He surged to the league lead, going 6-for-12 for the weekend series at Texas A&M. He also ended the regular season ranked second in RBI (55), second in hits (80) and seventh in home runs.

Allen has started all 56 games, including 50 at catcher, after serving primarily as the DH as a junior. He credits two years of maturity and strength and conditioning to coach Ben Fleming, for his ability to maintain his weight and remain consistent throughout the season.

"We lift two times a week and try to maintain my weight," Allen said. "A couple of years ago, I lost quite a bit of weight. I am making sure I stay between 225-230 pounds. I do a lot of stretching on my own before practice. I'm more mature with taking care of myself and making it a priority."

Robinson, Woodman Lift Rebels Late

Freshmen Errol Robinson and J.B. Woodman have been on a tear since the start of the Kentucky series. Robinson has raised his average from .285 to .310, hitting at a .375 clip, while Woodman has raised his average from .280 to .336, hitting at a .435 clip.

Woodman earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors for his role in helping Ole Miss clinch the SEC West. He drove in the game-tying run in Thursday night's win at Texas A&M and then drove in the game-tying run and scored the game-winning run in Friday's win at Texas A&M.

"The freshmen have had a big impact," Anderson said. "Errol, JB and Colby (Bortles), and Wyatt Short out of the bullpen, have had great years. Even as an older guy, when you see a freshman player with that confidence, it makes it a lot easier for us to feed off of that. Our whole team feeds off one another."


Toughness has been a mantra for Ole Miss baseball from day one, and it shined through once again Saturday, as the Rebels erased an early 4-0 deficit to clinch the weekend series against Arkansas.

Arkansas strung together six straight singles to take a 4-0 lead in the first, but Ole Miss answered with three runs in the bottom of the inning. From there, Christian Trent and the bullpen put up eight straight zeroes, as the Rebels came back to win by a score of 7-4.

"We were being aggressive and getting some good swings off," said Will Allen, who went 3-for-4 for the game. "That's huge after their four-run first to come back and put three runs up. It put us in a good position for the rest of the game. It took some of that momentum that they had, and we took it into our dugout and kept it for the most part of the game."

After the first inning, Trent worked a perfect second, fourth and fifth innings, as he allowed just three base runners the rest of the game. He left in the sixth, having allowed four runs -- all earned -- on nine hits with no walks and four strikeouts.

"In the first inning, when you look at what they did offensively, they square up some ball, but a couple of balls found holes," assistant coach Carl Lafferty said. "The thing that I was proud of Christian about is, to really mature in this league and be a quality starter, you're going to have innings like that, where it doesn't go your way. The difference for guys who are really elite in this league, they are the ones who can come up and do what Christian did and put up four more zeroes and keep us in the game and allow our offense to answer, which it has done all year."

"They were hitting everything I was throwing," said Trent of the first inning. "I gave up a couple of hits that were bad pitches, but really, they came out swinging. I was throwing pretty decent pitches, and they were just hitting them. I had to finish the game like I did and not let them score any more runs."

Ole Miss took the lead in the fourth behind five straight singles, including bunt singles by Errol Robinson, Preston Overbey and Braxton Lee. J.B. Woodman delivered the big hit of the inning with an RBI single up the middle, and heads-up base running allowed Robinson to score a second run on the play.

The Rebels added another run in the fourth on a sacrifice fly from Austion Bousfield, and then Sikes Orvis hit a solo shot in the fifth, his team-leading 12th home run of the season, to extend the lead to 7-4. On the mound, Scott Weathersby, Wyatt Short and Josh Laxer closed things out, as they combined to allow three hits with one walk and three strikeouts in four scoreless innings of relief.

"It's been a mantra this whole year," Lafferty said. "They don't flinch. They keep doing what they're doing and stick with the game plan. It's like, 'Let's just play.' We feel like we can score runs, we feel like we have a pitching staff that can hold them down. It was early in the ball game, but for the offense to come back and answer back in the bottom of the first, that's huge, especially for Christian and the rest of the pitching staff. We never feel like we are out of a game, and certainly that was the case today."

With the win, Ole Miss maintains sole possession of first place in the SEC Western Division with a 15-8 SEC record, 1.5 games ahead of LSU (13-9-1) and 2 games ahead of Alabama (13-10). Florida remains in first place in the SEC overall standings with a 17-6 SEC record.

"We urged our team that you can't scoreboard watch," Lafferty said. "You can't worry about what other teams are doing and who's playing and who's losing. You have to control your own destiny. We don't know if tomorrow is going to be the game that wins us the Southeastern Conference, so the focus is the same."


 

LSU looked to have gotten out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth, but right fielder Mark Laird dropped a fly ball in foul territory that would have been the final out and send the game to the fifth down just one run. 

Later in the at-bat, Auston Bousfield took advantage of extra life and knocked a 2-RBI single back up the middle to push the Ole Miss lead to 4-1, as the Rebels went on to even the series with a 5-1 win Friday night at Swayze Field.

"I was kind of kicking myself as the ball is in the air," Bousfield said. "Laird is a great outfielder. He made that great catch against Sikes (Orvis) last night that might have sealed the game for them. When he dropped it, I breathed a sigh of relief, and I had to lock back in and try to make it hurt and make them pay. I was able to get a pitch to hit, and I drove it up the middle and got a hit."

Bousfield later added a solo shot in the seventh, his fourth home run of the season, as he went 4-for-4 with three RBI, which tied his career high for hits. 

"Boz had a terrific night with the four hits, none bigger than the bases-loaded, two-strike hit, where it looked like we were going to squander an opportunity there for a second," head coach Mike Bianco said. "We tried to be a little too aggressive and tried a couple of push bunts, a couple of safety squeezes, that didn't work out. We don't execute, but then he gets the big two-out hit, and that's what it's all about."

Bousfield extended his hit streak to 10 games, hitting at a .404 clip during the stretch, and has multiple hits in five of his last seven games dating back to a 2-for-4 game on April 8 against Memphis. 

He also moved into the team lead with a .349 batting average and 86 total bases and continues to lead the team with 60 hits, which also leads the SEC. His 86 total bases is second only behind Kentucky's A.J. Reed who has 104 for the season.

"I was struggling a couple of weeks ago," Bousfield said. "I wasn't getting a lot of hits, but I feel like I was hitting balls hard but just hitting a lot of balls at people. I'm getting good swings off, and they're starting to fall a little bit more."

With the win, Ole Miss improves to 30-10 overall and 10-7 in league play, ahead of tomorrow's rubber game at 1 p.m. on Fox Sports Net.

"It evens the series, and tomorrow if we can come out and play our game, we still have a chance to take the series against a really good LSU team, so it's always big to win this game," Bousfield said.


 

Ole Miss held Auburn scoreless for 22 straight innings, from the seventh inning of the series opener Friday through the sixth inning of the series finale Saturday, but the weekend sweep remained in doubt in the eighth inning of the series finale.

In that eighth, Auburn loaded the bases on three straight walks before head coach Mike Bianco turned to Josh Laxer for the second straight day out of the bullpen. He retired the next three batters in order to strand the bases loaded and worked a perfect ninth to preserve the win and complete the sweep.

"It's not the place that you want to bring anybody in," Bianco said. "We're trying to make it easy on him. We wanted him to only pitch one innings after 34 pitches yesterday, and it doesn't work out that. We have a tough top of the eighth, and now the tying run comes to the plate. He comes in and strikes out the side. 

"I'm proud of him. You can see the competitor but you can also see the confidence. He's had some adversity, but he's battled through it. He looked terrific today. Even after pitching yesterday late into the night, to come sit all day today and then get up at the end and do that is pretty impressive."

In game one of Saturday's doubleheader, Christian Trent tossed a complete game shutout, the first of his career. He scattered five hits with two walks and seven strikeouts, which tied a career high. Trent said it was his best outing of the season, as the Rebels won 6-0.

"I felt good," Trent said. "I really felt like early I was struggling a little bit with the walks and stuff. I felt like I started to lock in around the third or the fourth, and then the game kept rolling, so it made it easier. Early on, it was off-speed, and I didn't have great fast ball command, and then later on, my fast ball command picked up, but my off-speed was still there."

"Even though we talk about how many low-scoring games there are, there aren't a lot of shutouts, where the pitcher can go all nine and not give up a run," Bianco said. "That was a great start of the day."

In the second game, Sam Smith recorded his sixth straight quality start, giving up just one run on seven hits with a walk and five strikeouts in 6.2 innings. He left with a 5-1 lead in the seventh before the bullpen, led by Laxer, closed out the 5-1 win.

"We broke through in the sixth innings, and it was good to finally get that run support," Smith said. "Coach Godwin has been teasing me, 'We're going to get you some runs,' so that was fun."

"The starters and relievers have been great this year," Laxer added. "You can't really ask for more out of the guys that are starting and coming out of the bullpen. Everybody's doing their job. It's good, and I hope it keeps going."


 

The calendar turned to March, but the walk-off wins continued for Ole Miss, as Will Allen hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning. He hit it to the deepest part of Swayze Field, but it carried over the 390' sign in center for the 5-4 win over UCF Saturday, the Rebels' fourth walk-off win in five days. 

"I knew I hit it good and I was on time for it," Allen said. "There have been a lot of well-hit balls that go dead center that didn't go out. It carried well. I saw the guy jump. I honestly didn't know until I saw the beer showers and everybody start cheering. I knew it was either going to be caught for an out or go out, so I was was watching it the whole time."

"The games haven't been our best games," head coach Mike Bianco said. "We kicked some balls, we had some poor at-bats, and maybe we didn't pitch our best, but when the games has been on the line deep in the game, when everything is magnified, we have played really well and played with a lot of confidence."

Allen, who leads the team with a .391 batting average and 17 RBI, has come up with a couple of those big plays. On Saturday, he went 2-for-4 with three RBI, which also included a 2-RBI double in the fifth as part of a four-run inning to give Ole Miss a 4-3 lead. His walk-off home run in the 10th was his second walk-off hit this week. Allen came up with a bases-loaded singles with two outs in the ninth to push Ole Miss to a 4-3 win over Louisiana-Monroe Wednesday.

"I'm definitely seeing the ball well," Allen said. "I'm trying to stick to my approach. I worked with Coach Godwin all offseason and continuing to see pitches up, get good pitches to hit and put your best swing on it. That's really our philosophy one through nine."

"He's swinging so well and swinging so confidently," head coach Mike Bianco said. "He had a big 3-0 double in the big four-inning for us. And then at the end, not a lot of balls go out to center field here. It was a well-struck ball."


Stellar pitching performances once again set the stage for the Ole Miss bats in the late innings. Christian Trent allowed four runs on six hits with no walks and a career-high seven strikeouts in 7.1 innings of work. Through three starts this season, Trent has allowed six runs on 12 hits with no walks and a team-leading 19 strikeouts. 

"He did what he's been doing this whole season and put us in a good position to win the ball game," said Allen of Trent. "He throws a three-pitch mix all over the strike zone. He kept them off balance. He settled in after the first. He did what he needed to do. He gave us a lot of solid innings, especially after all the pitchers we used last night."

And then it was Preston Tarkington and Wyatt Short out of the bullpen.

After getting two outs with the bases loaded in the ninth last night, Tarkington inherited a runner at third with one out in the eighth Saturday. He walked a batter, but then he got a fly ball to shallow right, not deep enough to score the runner, and a strikeout to end the inning. UCF got a leadoff single in the ninth, but Wyatt Short retired the next five batters in order, which included a double play to end the ninth and three strikeouts, to send the game to the bottom of the 10th tied at 4-4.

"The mantra of this team has been toughness since day one, since we got in the weight room with conditioning and then on the practice field," Allen said. "We knew we were going to be the hardest working team in the country. With that, you have confidence going into these games. When we're in tight situations like that, we have all the confidence in the world in each other, ourselves, our coaching staff to hang in there and do whatever we can to win ball games."


Head coach Mike Bianco gathered his team before the fifth inning, and Ole Miss responded with five runs in the fifth inning and four in the sixth. Home runs from Auston Bousfield and Sikes Orvis highlighted the offensive barrage, as the Rebels pounded out 17 hits in a 9-1 win over Georgia State Saturday at Swayze Field. 

"I gave them a little pep talk," Bianco said. I was frustrated. I was frustrated that we haven't played better at home. I was frustrated that we hadn't swung it better. I challenged them a little bit, and it's nice when they respond."

Trailing 1-0 entering the bottom of the fifth, Bousfield tied the game at 1-1 with a leadoff home run to left field. After singles from Will Allen and Preston Overbey, Sikes Orvis gave Ole Miss a 4-1 lead with a three-run homer to right center. The Rebels batted around, and Bousfield drove in another run with an infield single to the shortstop.

Ole Miss added four runs in the sixth to extend the lead to 9-1. Bousfield, Allen and Overbey all finished with three hits, while Orvis, Colby Bortles and Errol Robinson also had multi-hit games for the Rebels.

"Coach B brought us up and got onto us a little bit," said Bousfield of the pep talk. "He told us to have some better at-bats. It was nice, first pitch I saw the next inning, I got a good piece of it. It got the offense clicking there in the middle part of the game."


On the mound, Christian Trent allowed one run on three hits with no walks and six strikeouts in 7.0 innings of work. After the second inning, he allowed just one hit and did not allow a base runner to get into scoring position. Josh Laxer closed things out, giving up just one hit with a walk and three strikeouts in the eighth and ninth innings.

"He was terrific," Bianco said. "He pitched very similar to the way Chris did last night. He had a great mix of three pitches and really kept them off balance."

"I felt like I wasn't find my pitches right at the beginning of the game," Trent said. "I had a little bit of nerves with the first game at home. We settled in. Offensively, it was not coming early. We were still getting guys on, but then it was a breakthrough when it finally happened."

With the win, the Diamond Rebels improve to 6-0 on the season and will go for their second weekend series sweep Sunday against Georgia State at 1:30 p.m. at Swayze Field.


 
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