Results tagged “Diamond Rebels”
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."
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."
In the preseason, Mike Bianco said Aaron Greenwood could be their best guy out of the bullpen, the guy who can come in at any point and finish the game, similar to Jake Morgan and Scott Bittle from past Ole Miss teams.
Greenwood did just that, as he earned his second save of the season with three perfect innings of relief to close out to a 3-2 win in the series opener Friday night against Arkansas.
"If you remember back before the season started, when we talked about who the closer was, we said we didn't really have one right now, but Greenwood can be that guy who can come into this type of game and get you nine outs," Bianco said. "He can come in and not be just the ninth-inning guy. We laughed, Aaron and I, that we didn't know it was going to take until May 2 for that to happen."
Greenwood had posted a scoreless innings streak of 19-plus innings, capped by a career-long 4.2 scoreless innings in an 8-5 win over Auburn before he suffered an abdominal injury. In his first outing back, this past Sunday, he allowed two runs -- one earned -- on three hits in 2.1 innings of relief in a 9-6 win over Kentucky.
After Friday's dominant performance, he said he's feeling back to his old self.
"I'm really close (to 100 percent)," Greenwood said. "Last weekend was a little shaky. I performed well thankfully. This weekend, it felt great to be back out there. I keep getting better every single day."
Ole Miss took a 3-0 lead with a run in the third and two in the fourth before Arkansas had its first of two rallies, in the fifth. The Razorbacks cut the lead to 3-2 with a two-out, 2-RBI triple from Tyler Spoon. After a hit by pitch and walk to load the bases for Arkansas, Chris Ellis got out of it with a groundout to third.
Arkansas threatened again with an error and walk to lead off the sixth. After a sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third, Ellis got a strikeout and shallow fly out to right to strand two more runners.
Ellis, who recorded his fourth straight quality start, allowed two runs -- both earned -- on six hits with three walks and two strikeouts, as he stranded seven Arkansas runners on base. It was fifth straight start to allow two earned runs or fewer.
"My command was not exactly there, but I worked out of it and made pitches when I needed to," Ellis said. "We got hits when we needed to, and certainly Greenwood came in and dominated in the last three innings."
From there, it was all Greenwood. He worked a perfect seventh, eight and ninth, retiring all nine Arkansas batters in order, including four strikeouts. Josh Laxer and Wyatt Short warmed up in the bullpen, but Bianco stayed with Greenwood for the ninth, and he delivered.
"We had those guys ready," Bianco said. "We got them warmed up. When (Greenwood) went in for the seventh, we weren't sure if he could get to the ninth. When he threw at Kentucky, he hadn't pitched, and he got really tired. We weren't sure. We had those guys up and ready to go, but with the way he pitched in seventh and eighth and it looked the ball had a lot of zip on it and it looked like he had all four pitches, he had to do it."
"After the eighth, Coach B came up to me and said, 'You feel good enough to finish?' I said, 'For sure. Yes sir,'" Greenwood said. "(Out there the ninth), it's great because you're out there in front of all these fans -- 9,000 tonight -- and your adrenaline starts pumping. You can tell I was a little wild for a little bit, but I calmed myself back down and made some pitches."
Sam Smith posted his eighth straight quality start, but it was not enough, as LSU shut out Ole Miss 2-0 Saturday afternoon to take the three-game series. It was the first time that the Rebels had been shutout since a 4-0 loss to Memphis on April 15 last season, and the six hits were the second-lowest output of the season.
"They came straight at us, attacking us," Will Allen said. "Early on, we hit a lot good balls, but they just weren't finding holes. That's baseball. They're a good team and they have good arms, but we're a better offense than that. We have to execute better than that. We know that. We're more talented than that. We have done our jobs for the majority of the whole, but today was not our day. We didn't really come out and get after it like we always have been and striking first."
"It was just a bad day offensively, which is not like us," head coach Mike Bianco said. "I really felt like this weekend wasn't like us. Unfortunately today, it was one of those bad offensive days that happens in baseball over 56 games. We just really couldn't mount anything. We had a few base hits here or there, but we really didn't threaten at all."
Smith, a native of Lake Charles, La., pitched into the eighth inning and left with a 2-0 deficit after he allowed a solo home run to Conner Hale to lead off the inning, which snapped a streak of 10 straight retired batters for him.
He allowed two runs -- both earned -- on five hits with a walk and four strikeouts in a career-long 7.1 innings. With the loss, Ole Miss is 5-3 during his streak of eight straight quality starts.
"It's so disappointing for him individually," Bianco said. "I know he just wants to win. It's not about his win or loss; it's about our success. What can you say? Every third game, he gives you great effort. He really didn't have his stuff today.
"I don't know if he touched 90 (mph). If he did, it was just a few pitches in the 90s, where usually he's all over 90-93, but he hung in there. It wasn't his best day stuff-wise, but it was one of his gutsier performances. He gave us every opportunity, but we couldn't do anything offensively."
LSU's starting pitcher, Alden Cartwright, retired the first nine Ole Miss batters in order and left with a 1-0 lead after four innings. For the game, Ole Miss leadoff hitters were 0-for-9, and the Rebels were 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position.
Ole Miss threatened in the fourth with back-to-back one-out singles by Auston Bousfield and Austin Anderson, but Will Allen grounded into an inning-ending double play.
"It was up and in, and honestly I shouldn't have swung at it," said Allen of his at-bat in the fourth. "That was my fault. That was really an inning that we could have put together and score some runs and put some pressure on them."
Sikes Orvis hit a two-out double in the seventh, but Ole Miss could not get him home, and then in the ninth, trailing 2-0, the Rebels got the would-be game-winning run to the plate after a single by Anderson and two-walk by Orvis, but LSU's Kurt McCune got a groundout to close out the 2-0 win.
"It is frustrating but it's baseball," Allen said. "It's happened to us before and we have overcome it to win some ball games. It's happened to other teams. It's going to happen to every team. There's not really much you can do about it. You have to keep your head up and keep swinging."
"We lacked that punch," Bianco said. "We lacked that on Thursday night, where we have always been so good when the game is on the line. We just couldn't manage stuff, and that's going to happen. It happens at times in our game. We couldn't manage to put an inning together, we couldn't make the pitch at the right time, and we couldn't make the play to get off the field in a couple of innings. That's not us. You look at the weekend, even yesterday, we played better, but certainly not the way we have played at home until this point."
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.
Coming off a disappointing 6-5 loss in 10 innings Saturday, Ole Miss bounced back with a dominant 12-2 win Sunday to take the weekend series against Mississippi State in Starkville.
At the plate, the Rebels set season high for runs (12) and hits (20), while Sam Smith posted his seventh straight quality start and picked up his fifth win of the season.
"It was our day, and it starts with an attitude and a belief," head coach Mike Bianco said. "When we walked into the team meeting before we got here, I could tell they were ready to go. It was a quiet bus ride back to the hotel last night, but I could tell this morning they were ready to go."
"Yesterday, wasn't a good day at the end for us, but we were all excited to go to bed and wake up and play baseball again the next day," Smith said. "We brought a lot of energy this morning, and nobody could have matched our energy today."
Ole Miss did it all at the plate from the start. The Rebels got the leadoff man on in six of the nine innings, went 13-for-26 with runners in scoring position and 5-for-15 with two outs, including three two-out RBIs. Of the 19 hits, 17 were singles, and six players had multi-hit games.
The one-through-four hitters -- Braxton Lee, Auston Bousfield, Austin Anderson and Will Allen -- were a combined 11-for-20 with two doubles, three walks, five runs scored and five RBI. The same four hitters hit at .407 clip for the weekend.
Anderson tied a career-high with four hits, as he went 4-for-5 with two doubles and two RBI. Bousfield and Preston Overbey had three hits each, followed by Lee, Allen, and Will Jamison with two hits each.
"He can hit the ball out and sprays the ball all over the field," said Bianco of Anderson. "You watch him, and he has so many great at-bats in a row. He continues even when he doesn't get hits. He's just not an easy out up there."
"It was one of those day that everyone was seeing the ball well," Anderson said. We were hitting it, but they weren't. We were aggressive throughout the whole lineup and that definitely helped.
Lee set the table for the Rebels with a 6-for-14 weekend out of the leadoff spot, to go along with three walks, three doubles, three runs scored, two RBI and two stolen bases, which gives him 19 for the season.
"With Braxton really swinging it well, and he's such a threat on the bases, it's hard to quantify how that helps the other guys," Bianco said. They really have to defend against the steal and how that helps Boz, Anderson and Allen, not that they need a lot of help with the way they're swinging, but it's certainly a big deal for us."
The 10 runs was a season-high in support of Sam Smith, who did not allow a run until the seventh inning. He left in the seventh after giving up two runs on six hits with two walks and three strikeouts in six innings.
"The offense comes out and smacks them in the mouth early and you get to pitch with a lead," Smith said. It's nice to have a little room to breathe."
"It's as good as I have seen him, and that's saying a lot," Bianco said. "He's pitched well. His fastball was really outstanding, throwing the ball down in the zone, throwing ball at the knees, in and out."
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."
Riding a six-game win streak, Ole Miss travels to face Mississippi State in a three-game weekend series as part of Super Bulldog Weekend, which also includes Saturday's Maroon-White spring football game.
Mississippi State has averaged 7,700 fans at Dudy Noble Field, which ranks third in the nation behind LSU (10,770) and Arkansas (7,871) and just ahead of Ole Miss (7,481) and South Carolina (7,408). Mississippi State has set a goal to break the on-campus attendance record, which the school set in 1989 with 14,991.
"With Super Bulldog Weekend, it's going to be a ton people, and certainly when your rivals come to town," head coach Mike Bianco said. "We have also been to South Carolina. It's exciting for them. That's why people come to play here and play in the SEC. You want to play in those types of atmosphere, so the guys are excited for it."
Ole Miss is no stranger to that type of atmosphere, having played in front of 7,000-plus fans in all three games at South Carolina and four SEC home games with 9,000-plus fans at Swayze Field, including 10,523 at last Saturday's doubleheader against Auburn.
"It seems like every spring game for them, it's something like 12,000 or 14,000," Bianco said. "We draw pretty well here, too. Once you get to that number, it's a lot of people. It's not really the amount of people; it's your rival. That's what playing in the SEC is all about. You have to go play baseball regardless."
Ole Miss has had a knack for the dramatics with an 8-3 record in one-run games, 6-2 in walk-off wins and 11 come-from-behind wins, none more dramatic than Austin Anderson's three-run walk-off home run in the 13th against Auburn last Friday.
Including a pair of home runs by Will Allen and Sikes Orvis Tuesday against Memphis, Ole Miss has 24 home runs through 35 games, which eclipsed last season's mark of 23 in 62 games. Compared to last season through 35 games, the Rebels have also raised their batting average, from .272 to .303, and lowered their earned run average (2.68 to 2.21) and opponents' batting average (.237 to .219).
Head coach Mike Bianco: "We're playing really well. In that (0-4) week, we had trouble putting innings together. We had trouble closing out games and trouble doing a lot of things. This offense has been good and pretty consistent throughout the season."
Junior right-hander Josh Laxer, on the weekend: "It's going to be fun. I can't wait. It's going to be a great series. Two great teams, us and State. It's going to be a battle out there. It's going to end up being who's the most clutch because there are probably going to be some close games, so we're excited about that."
Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco recaps Wednesday's 8-5 win over Murray State and previews the upcoming three-game series at Mississippi State starting Friday at 6:30 p.m.
The Ole Miss offense exploded for nine runs on 14 hits in a 9-1 win over Memphis at AutoZone Park. The barrage included five multi-hit games and a season-high seven extra-base hits, including home runs by Will Allen and Sikes Orvis.
"So far this season when we start hitting, everybody starts hitting," Orvis said. "We started to run some balls into the gap, guys started hitting the ball hard, and it's contagious. Hitting is contagious, and a lot of guys started swinging the bat well and put up some good numbers tonight."
Preston Overbey, who went 3-for-4, his third three-hit game and first multi-hit game since March 15 at South Carolina, delivered the big hit in a three-run fourth with a bases-loaded, 2-RBI double down the left-field line.
"It blew it open a little bit and gave everybody a little confidence, and it's always great to get a bases-loaded hit," Overbey said.
The Rebels added to their lead with a four-spot in the fifth, including three by way of the home run. Allen pulled a two-run home run to left, his fifth home run of the season, and Orvis followed two batters later with a monstrous solo shot to right-center to extend the lead to 8-0.
"I got that one pretty good," said Orvis of his home run. "That one felt really good. It was one of those where you hit and watch it. That one felt really good off the bat."
With those two home runs, Ole Miss has 24 home runs through 34 games, which eclipses last season's mark of 23 in 62 games. Both Allen and Orvis have been a big part of the power surge.
After hitting .231 with four home runs and 23 RBI last season, Allen is hitting .348 with five home runs and 37 RBI, which ranks second in the SEC, behind only Kentucky's A.J. Reed.
Orvis, who extended his hit streak to a team-leading eight games, is hitting .322 with a team-high seven home runs and 24 RBI after hitting .237 with three home runs and 21 RBI last season.
"It's everything," said Orvis of the home run total. "Coach (Ben) Fleming made us a lot stronger and a lot tougher, but a lot guys have matured. A lot of guys have a much better approach at the plate. For me, I'm going up there with an approach and not just swinging at anything. A lot of guys have bought into what Coach (Cliff) Godwin has been preaching, and it's been working for a lot of people."
"I don't know if anybody knows the secret formula," Bianco said. "One of the things that wasn't mentioned a lot going into the year is guys like (Austin) Anderson, Orvis, Allen and (Auston) Bousfield are guys who have been here three and four years. Even though much is said and should be said about the recruiting class that is here and how talented some of these young guys are, there are some older guys who are having really good years and have had good years. Everyone's putting it together."
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."
Austin Anderson stepped to the plate with runners at second and third with nobody out in the 13th. The team's leading hitter, now hitting at a .371 clip, had been intentionally walked in each of his last two plate appearances in the ninth and the 11th.
Auburn planned to intentionally walk him for the third straight time, but Auburn pitcher Jay Wade left the ball over the plate, and Anderson sent it over the fence in right for a three-run walk-off home run and a 8-5 win Friday night.
"It was right down the middle," Anderson said.
Was he surprised?
"Actually I wasn't surprised because the first time they intentionally walked me, the pitch was kind of the same thing," Anderson said. "They didn't call it a strike because the umpire said they were trying to put me on base. The second time, I was ready for it, but they didn't try it. And then the third time, the first pitch, they tried to get one by me, and with runners at second and third and no outs, I was just trying to get a sacrifice fly, and that's where it ended up."
"They tried to intentionally walk him, and he left it over the plate," head coach Mike Bianco said. "Anderson was ready. He had been intentionally walked two times earlier in the game. A time or two, the pitches missed close to the plate. Coach Godwin was about to say something with the infield in, if they got close enough, but he was already ready. I have seen it before. I have seen Stephen Head do it and get a base hit, but I have never seen someone hit a home run."
As soon as he hit it, he knew it.
"I knew the game was over at that point. I was just walking it out, and then it went over, which made it better. It's a long game, and everyone wants to win it, go home and get ready for the next day. Being able to win it for the team, it's a great team win."
Greenwood Extends Scoreless Innings Streak
Before Austin Anderson's heroics, a three-run walk-off home run in the 13th, Aaron Greenwood and Josh Laxer combined to throw 7.1 scoreless innings, allowing just three hits each.
Greenwood worked a career-long 4.2 scoreless innings, giving up just three hits with no walks, as he extended his scoreless innings streak to 19.1 innings, having not allowed a run since February 28 against UCF.
"There hasn't really been any change," said Greenwood of the streak. "I'm just staying with the process, and my coaches believed in me."
"He's been dominant," said Bianco of Greenwood. "He's holding them at bay and giving us big outings. He's given us long outings, not just an inning or two. Today, he gives us four and two-third innings. He was really efficient."
Coming off a 0-4 week, with a midweek loss to Southern Miss in Pearl and then a sweep at the hands of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ole Miss bounced back with an 11-1 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff Wednesday.
Ole Miss (22-8) scored three runs before an out was recorded, as the offense exploded for 11 runs on 11 hits. The Rebels put up put up three crooked numbers on the scoreboard -- four runs in the first, three in the third and three in the fifth.
"On Tuesday, I loved our energy in practice," head coach Mike Bianco said. "I was excited to see how much they got after it in practice yesterday. You have a day off after a tough, tough week of baseball. You come have practice and show that kind of energy. You knew they were ready. We talked to them a little about where we are and what happened and how you have to handle it. It happens to all teams. I don't know if they even needed that. They seem to be the same team they were the week prior."
"We did a good job," said Auston Bousfield, one of seven Rebels with a hit in the game. "We won a game 11-1. We swung it well and pitched well. Collectively as a team, we did a good job of bouncing back."
The middle of the order, Austin Anderson, Will Allen and Sikes Orvis, went a combined 6-for-8 with three doubles, five runs and five RBI to lead the offensive barrage.
J.B. Woodman hit his first career home run, a solo shot to right in the fifth. It was the team's 21st home run through 30 games, having hit 23 home runs in 62 games last season. Ole Miss is also now tied with Kentucky for the most home runs in the Southeastern Conference.
"He's terrific," said Bianco of Woodman. "He hasn't played every single day because of (Will) Jamison out there. He always seems to give you a couple of good at-bats throughout the game, just maybe not as consistently as he would like offensively. You can see the greatness in him. You can tell that it's only a matter of time before gets a little more consistent. It's always great to see somebody hit their first college home run, a guy who came here as such a high-profiled recruit."
The Rebels return to league play with a three-game home weekend series against Auburn (19-11, 5-4 SEC), which lost two of three at home to Missouri this past weekend and most recently fell 8-1 at home to Samford Tuesday night.
"One of the things we have stressed from game one is they all count the same," said Bianco of this weekend's games. "It doesn't matter if you get beat in the ninth. It doesn't matter if you win in the ninth. All the wins count the same; all the losses count the same. Don't get caught up in the race and the scores."
"Auburn is a good team," Bousfield said. "We have to be ready to play this weekend. Today is a good start."
On baseball's Opening Day in 1997, Chris Snopek got the start at third base for the Chicago White Sox against the Toronto Blue Jays. Nearly 17 years later to the day, he remembers the setting well.
"I was blessed to have that opportunity," Snopek said. "It was awesome. We opened in the Toronto SkyDome playing against Joe Carter, Roberto Alomar and those guys. It was pretty intense."
A three-year Ole Miss letterman from 1990-92, Snopek became the 10th All-American in school history when Baseball America made him a third-team choice in 1992, having hit at a .407 clip for the season, setting then-school records with 21 doubles and 62 RBIs.
Snopek, now a facility director and baseball instructor of P360 Sports, a performance sports complex based in Ridgeland, Miss., recounts playing for coach Jake Gibbs and coach Don Kessinger, and lessons learned from his time in Oxford.
"I learned the value of working hard," Snopek said. "Going to Ole Miss, I only knew the freshman guys on the baseball team. I learned how to earn respect and how to adapt, having played at Ole Miss in the SEC - and the perseverance of working day in and day out - to constantly work on your craft."
Following his successful junior campaign in 1992, Snopek was selected in the sixth round of the MLB Draft by the White Sox. During the 1993 and 1994 seasons, Snopek made minor league stops in South Bend, Ind., Sarasota, Fla., and most notably Birmingham, Ala., where he was teammates with basketball legend Michael Jordan.
"It was a circus-like atmosphere with all the media following us," said Snopek of the 1994 season in Birmingham. "As minor league players, we did not have access to that until he got there. He brought a lot of attention to the team, which gave us a platform to show our skills as players. It put me on pace to get to the big leagues and opened a lot of doors for me."
A year later, that door opened, and Snopek made his major league debut with the White Sox on July 31, 1995. As a rookie, he hit a career-best .324 with a home run and seven RBIs in 22 games. He went on to play 207 games over four seasons in the major leagues with the Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox.
He credits his defense and ability to hit for making it to, and staying in the major leagues, but looking back, he sees another area where he could have improved.
"Before I got to the big leagues, I hit about .300. In the big leagues, I hit .300 the first year. But I did not adapt well as being a utility guy. If I could go back, I would have taken more time and learned how to play every couple of days, like Seth Smith who does so well as a pinch-hitter."
One of the most prolific hitters in Ole Miss baseball history, Snopek remains close with his former teammates and the program with Oxford just a short 2.5-hour drive away.
"Living in Jackson, you get access to all the local material," Snopek said. "We try to get back to Oxford three to four times a year. We follow Ole Miss closely, and we're still big supporters of them.
"It's become a national brand, instead of just a Southeast brand," Snopek said. "It's a top-30, top-40 school, as far as all athletes. In baseball, it's a top-15, top-20 school, which is pretty good relative to other schools out there. It's a credit to Coach Bianco, Coach Freeze, Coach Kennedy and really Ross Bjork as athletics director."