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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.


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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."


 

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."



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."


 

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."

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."



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."


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."



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Down 4-3 to Louisiana-Monroe entering the top of the fifth inning, head coach Mike Bianco turned to his bullpen, and the trio of Matt Denny, Preston Tarkington and Wyatt Short answered the call and combined to put up five zeroes on the scoreboard to give Ole Miss a chance in the bottom of the ninth.

Ole Miss took advantage and plated two runs in the ninth to rally to defeat Louisiana-Monroe by a score of 5-4 Tuesday afternoon at Swayze Field. The Rebels tied the game at 4-4 on an RBI groundout from freshman second baseman Dalton Dulin and then completed the rally with a two-out, walk-off RBI single from junior outfielder Braxton Lee on a chopper hit at the shortstop. 

"To have these kind of wins and have the comebacks, you always talk about the offense, which is the obvious thing," head coach Mike Bianco said. "The less obvious and one of the most important ingredients is on the mound. You have to put up some zeroes. We put up a bunch of zeroes, and it started with Denny out of the bullpen. He looked terrific. Preston was really, really sharp. Wyatt Short, for his third outing of the year, looked super dominant."

"In the last inning, we came in and had a lot of energy, especially with Tarky. He threw great, and so did Wyatt Short," Denny said. "It really brought a lot of energy."

Denny came on in the fifth and allowed just one hit with no walks and two strikeouts in three innings of work, which tied his career high. Tarkington followed in the eighth and did not allow a hit with a strikeout in 1.1 innings of work. Short inherited a runner at second with one out in the ninth, but he got a pop-up to short and a swinging strikeout to get out of the inning.

"We have to pound the zone every time we get in there, no matter if we're up seven or down seven," Denny said. "It's one of the things that's our job to come in, especially out of the bullpen, to keep it close."


Chris Triplett hit a two-run, go-ahead home run and Matt Rose pitched a complete game to lift Georgia State past Ole Miss, 6-4, on Sunday at Swayze Field.

Ole Miss starter Sam Smith allowed nine runs on nine hits with no walks and four strikeouts and left the game with a 4-3 lead in the sixth. Georgia State rallied in the late innings with a pair of home runs, Triplett's in the seventh and then a solo shot in the eighth, to take the series finale.

"It was tough on all the pitchers today," head coach Mike Bianco. "They're very good offensively, and it was a tough day to pitch. Sam really battled, but they got a lot of good swings off today throughout the game. Sam gave us a chance just like he always does on Sunday. He leaves the game with the lead. With nine outs to go, we're not able to hold it. That's tough. And it's more of their doing."

"They were really ready to play today and they came out swinging," senior catcher Will Allen said. "They pitched well. I'm not too sure if we weren't ready, or they were more ready than us. Overall, we have to play better. We have to get some timely hits. If we're not going to be on the bases as much as we usually are, we have to take full advantage when we are on the bases. We have to make pitches. We have to work down in the zone and work ahead. Any advantage, you have to take advantage of it. We had some missed opportunities today."

Triplett, who hit .455 for the weekend, was a double shy of the cycle and drove in three runs to lead the Georgia State offense, which had 14 hits for the game. 

On the mound, Rose limited the Rebels to one run after the first two innings, as he went the distance and allowed four runs on eight hits with four walks and four strikeouts.

"He really settled down after we put up three in the first two," freshman designated hitter Colby Bortles said. "He really settled down after that. He started to hit his spots. He wasn't overthrowing like he was in the first couple of innings. He settled down, hit his spots and threw his slider more often and kept us off balance."

"He was busting righties in, away from lefties, mixing it up with a slider and a change-up to both lefties and righties," Allen said. "He has good stuff. He's a really good pitcher. He competed well. Kudos to him for going the whole way. That's very impressive."

Allen and Bortles both had multi-hit games for the second straight game. Allen is hitting a team-leading .429, including .500 for the weekend with a hit in each of the three games. Bortles made his second and third career starts and also hit .500 for the weekend with a pair of 2-for-4 games.

"He's really looked terrific," said Bianco of Bortles. "He had a good fall and I knew he would be in the mix. Since we got back in January and started intrasquad games, he has swung it as well as anybody. He's a guy who can hit it to all fields. He certainly has big-time power. He's not just a big swing-and-miss guy. He will handle some off-speed and will be able to take it the other way. He's going to be a star."

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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