Tip of the Cap

It took an extra inning but Zach Kirksey's sacrifice fly to centerfield got Jordan King home from third base, and Ole Miss beat Austin Peay 5-4 Tuesday night.

"We don't play our best game but find a way to win," said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco after his team improved to 8-1 on the season. "So you have to be happy with that."

King led off the tenth with a walk given up by Zane Leffew, the seventh pitcher used by the Governors in the contest. A balk by Leffew before his first pitch to Miles Hamblin got King into scoring position. Hamblin sac bunted King to third, and Austin Anderson was intentionally walked.

That's when Kirksey came up to bat with the intentions of winning the game for the Rebels.

"I knew they were going to throw me offspeed, try to get me to roll over it," Kirksey said. "I was just saying ‘stay inside the ball, work oppo, and hit the ball in the air.' He gave me a slider, a pitch I could hit, and I got it done."

The visitors set the tone in the top of the first inning, scoring a run on an RBI single by Jordan Hankins.

Ole Miss tied it in the bottom of the second on a RBI triple by Kirksey. That got Miles Hamblin home after he had singled to get aboard.

The Bat Govs (4-1) added two runs in the fourth as starter Matt Tracy ran into some trouble. Trent Rothlin came in and prevented further damage.

Rothlin managed to make it to the 6th when he walked two batters. Eric Callender came in and gave up a run on a wild pitch.

Things stayed at 4-1 until the bottom of the seventh when Ole Miss got two runs. It was a battle of coaching moves, especially from the Governors as they used four different pitchers in the frame alone.

With two outs, an Alex Yarbrough fly ball to left bounced off the glove of APSU left fielder Cody Hudson allowing Blake Newalu, who had singled, and Mathis who had walked, to both score. The Rebels were back in it, and the momentum had swung in the home team's favor.

Jordan King scoes the tying run in the 8th
Courtesy: Bruce Newman
Ole Miss tied it 4-4 in the bottom of the eighth. An Anderson RBI single got King home after King had reached on a fielder's choice and stolen second.

A leadoff walk in the bottom of the ninth for Blake Newalu and a sac bunt by Tanner Mathis got things set up for Ole Miss to win it then. But they couldn't get the run home.

Not to be overlooked in this one was the stellar relief pitching of the last two of four pitchers used by the Rebels. After Matt Tracy and Trent Rothlin gave up the four runs, Eric Callender and Brett Huber finished things up in winning fashion.

Callender went 2.1 innings, allowing just a hit and a walk with two strikeouts. Huber was equally effective in his 2.1 innings of work, with a hit and three walks but four strikeouts.

"I didn't have my best stuff tonight," said Huber, who got his first win of the season. "But one thing Coach (Bianco) stresses is being a competitor out there. He also tries to get you to pound the zone, and I wasn't doing that tonight. When that happens you have to compete and believe in yourself. That last inning there I felt a little bit better. I was just out there trying to compete and get a win for the team."

Bianco said it was good to see Callender come in and be so effective.

"I thought Callender pitched well," he said. "To come in in a jam and get out of it and put up some zeroes and attack the zone was the message out there."

He also said Kirksey certainly did his job by driving in the winning run with his sac fly.

"He's really swinging a hot bat," Bianco said. "He can strike out on occasion, and I think that's why they walked (Anderson) to get to him. Credit to him. He just popped it into the outfield, which we needed to win the game. That's a lot harder than it looks."

Austin Peay will start redshirt freshman left-hander Alex Belew on the mound in Wednesday's 6:30 p.m. game. He's 1-0 with a 5.40 ERA.

The Rebels will go with true freshman right-hander Mike Mayers (0-0, 7.71 ERA).

Bianco said Matt Smith, with a strained forearm, is improving but might not play Wednesday night.

He also said pitchers Bobby Wahl and R.J. Hively had some arm soreness but tests results this week were good. Hively will shut down for a week or so and rehab, then be evaluated to pitch. Wahl will do the same but likely for a longer period of time.

OM Spirit Top Stories