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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."



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."



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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."

NOTABLE

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).

QUOTABLE

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."

VIDEO: Mike Bianco


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."


 

VIDEO: Ole Miss-Auburn Highlights

 
Game One Highlights


Game Two Highlights

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."


 

VIDEO: Ole Miss-Auburn Highlights

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."



VIDEO: Ole Miss-UAPB Highlights

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."

VIDEO: Ole Miss-Missouri Highlights

Head coach Mike Bianco and the Ole Miss players said one of the team's goals is to win 20 games in the SEC. After losing two of three at South Carolina last weekend, Ole Miss is back to even in pursuit of that goal at 21-4 overall and 4-2 in SEC play after a weekend sweep of Missouri, capped by Sunday's 7-3 comeback win.

"We talked about it last week. After that tough Saturday, especially that first game, you felt you left one on the table to not get two out of three the first weekend, and we would have to sweep down the road," head coach Mike Bianco said. "We were hoping to sweep some weekend, but you would have to sweep a series that maybe you were not supposed to. 

"Maybe this was the game with four errors and a game where you looked at it from a distance and you said they're not supposed to win that game, but we hung in there. And that was the key. We kept the game close enough that we could win it. Maybe this was one of the games that we stole. As I said to the guys, that doesn't put you ahead necessarily at 4-2; it got you back to where you're supposed to be if you're winning weekends at 4-2. That was huge to get us back to where we should be."

Sunday starter, junior right-hander Sam Smith, recorded his fourth straight quality start, as he left the game with a 2-1 deficit in the seventh. He worked 6.0 innings and allowed three runs -- two earned -- on five hits with a walk and a strikeout.

"What Sam does, and why he has so much success in being a veteran, is he keeps it in control," Bianco said. "He doesn't let the inning blow up on him. He handles it. There were some innings there that they could have scored multiple runs, and he didn't let that happen just by bearing down and making some pitches. I'm certainly proud of his outing."

Sophomore left-hander Matt Denny and junior right-hander Hawtin Buchanan limited the damage to one run in the seventh, while freshman left-hander Wyatt Short stranded the bases loaded with a strikeout and a groundout in the eighth to keep Ole Miss within one, down 3-2, entering the bottom of the inning.

"With the bases loaded and one out, (Short) comes in and gets the strikeout and a ground ball to end the inning and keep the difference at one," Bianco said. "It makes it so much harder, especially playing a team at home where the visiting team has to get six outs." 

Junior outfielder Will Jamison led off the eighth with a single through the right side. Sophomore Cameron Dishon pinch ran for Jamison and advanced to second after freshman shortstop Errol Robinson laid down a sacrifice bunt.

Dishon came around to score the game-tying on an infield single to the shortstop from junior outfielder Auston Bousfield. After a hit by pitch, senior third baseman Austin Anderson delivered an RBI single to right to score Bousfield and take a 4-3 lead, and the Rebels went on to bat around and plate six runs in the inning.

"You put one of the faster guys on the field into the game, and so when we bunt him over, it was a really gutsy play by Cliff (Godwin) to send him," said Bianco of Dishon scoring from second on the infield single. "That's what a good coach does. He sees the shortstop go up the middle to make the play and sees it's going to be a tough play for him. A lot of times when you do that, it's an errant throw and it's going to be a bang-bang play, and the first baseman freezes like that guy did where you almost want to argue the call. Once that happened, we were able to have the big inning."


 

VIDEO: Ole Miss-Missouri Highlights

Orvis Leads Power Surge For Rebels

Ole Miss hit 23 home runs in 62 games a season ago, and no player had more than five home runs. Through 24 games this season, the Rebels have hit 19, led by six from junior first baseman Sikes Orvis.

Orvis led the barrage Saturday with a pair of home runs, his second and third of the weekend, and senior catcher Will Allen also homered, as Ole Miss clinched the series against Missouri with a 7-1 win.

"The guys who drive them out have always been able to do it, but it's more about having the confidence and approach and being aggressive," Orvis said. "Guys are wanting to come out and hit them in the mouth early, swinging hard and swinging early in the count, getting good swing offs and trying to run into balls. All of the stuff that (strength and conditioning coach) Ben (Fleming) made us do has definitely made us stronger, so the guys are starting to drive it out even better now."

"He's feeling good," head coach Mike Bianco said. "I'm proud of him. He's come a long way since his freshman year. This is the guy we knew he could be and expected him to be. Defensively, too, since getting here, he was worked hard with Coach Godwin and worked in the weight room to improve his body. He's having a great year."

Recruited to be next Matt Snyder, a 10th-round draft pick of the New York Yankees in 2012, Orvis knew he had big shoes to fill when he arrived from Orlando, Fla., as Snyder finished his career tied for second all-time in Ole Miss history with 41 home runs and finished third all-time with 173 RBI.

After hitting .232 as a freshman and .237 as a sophomore, Orvis has also upped his batting average to .325, one of six regulars in the Ole Miss lineup hitting over .300, to go along with his team-leading six home runs.

"I heard that earlier in my career," said Orvis of the Snyder comparison. "Last year, I had a little trouble, but it's starting to come back a little bit. They brought me in to do what Snyder did. They're big shoes to fill, but I'm trying to do my best. 

"Obviously, I'm not here to run around the outfield or steal bases. I'm here to drive balls into the gap and over the fence and get people in, and that's what Snyder did for four years. That's definitely what I want to try to do."

VIDEO: Ole Miss-Missouri Highlights

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."



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