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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."


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 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."


 

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."


 

Another Quality Start For Smith

Behind Bobby Wahl and Mike Mayers, sophomore right-hander Sam Smith has quietly put together a stellar season in his own right. The regular third starter in the weekend rotation, the Lake Charles, La., native is 3-0 with a 3.11 ERA and 1.38 WHIP.


"I have always thought I had the potential to go out there and pitch in the SEC," Smith said. "That's why I came here. I just hadn't showed it yet. I think I have done that."


Smith took a no-decision in Wednesday's 4-1 loss to Arkansas, but he continued his success on the mound, giving up just one run on six hits with a walk and four strikeouts in six innings. In the third, he retired three batters in order after back-to-back singles to start the inning, then pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth.


"My defense helped me out a lot," Smith said. "Andrew Mistone made some really good plays. It helped a lot I was able to fill up the zone with all my pitches. I got my slider in the second or third inning. That was a good pitch for me. I was able to locate that well. I was able to keep them off balance, and that was big for me."


His six innings of work tied a career high, most recently against Mississippi State, in which he picked up his third win of the season. He gave up three runs -- one earned -- on eight hits with two strikeouts, as Ole Miss won 10-8.


"I was getting pretty tired, but I was still able to throw all my pitches for strikes," Smith said of pitching six innings. "I think as long as I could do that, I was fine. I felt OK."


Over his last seven starts, dating back to April 14 against Alabama, Smith has allowed just 10 runs, eight of which were earned, in 35 innings.


"Coach (Carl) Lafferty has worked a lot with me in the bullpen," Smith said. "We have been working on a lot of things. My defense has really what has given me the most confidence. I'm not scared to go after people and let them hit the ball because they have made some great plays for me."


Smith said he feels like he has been pitching about the same, just doing a better job throwing pitches for strikes and keeping the ball down. He also credited Wahl and Mayers, and their approach on the mound. 


"Those guys compete harder than anyone I have ever seen," Smith said of Wahl and Mayers. "I try to model my competitiveness after them. They're fun to watch. I think a lot of what I need to work on was runners in scoring position, two outs and making big pitches to get out of the inning. I think I have been doing a better of job of that."


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