Clean Sweep

Mike Bianco summed up his team's 11-3 win Wednesday night against Austin Peay succinctly.

"Probably our best night of the year all around," said the Ole Miss head coach after his team improved to 9-1.

Newcomers were the rule and not the exception in this contest.

"We start a freshman (on the mound)," Bianco said of right-hander Mike Mayers, who also got his first win. "He handles some adversity in the first inning, and then three guys that have never pitched in college before finish up and do a terrific job. At the end of the game we have four freshmen in the infield, a freshman in left field, and a freshman catcher in right field. Our cleanest game of the year. Just played really well."

At game's end on the field were these freshmen - Jordan Poole in left field, Gabe Woods at second base, Will Allen at first base, Preston Overbey at third base, Austin Sullivan in right field, and Austin Anderson at shortstop.

The Governors scored two runs in the top of the first inning as Mayers allowed a double and two singles to the first three batters. After two runs were in, Mayers settled down and recorded three consecutive outs.

Tanner Mathis, Taylor Hightower
Courtesy: Bruce Newman
The Rebels came right back in the bottom of the first with six runs of their own. Mayers said that was a big boost to him as the game moved forward.

"That definitely helped," said the Ohio freshman. "It made me go out there and just relax. I know how to throw strikes, and after that first inning I knew our offense was going to be with me tonight."

The six runs in the first were plenty for the Rebels on this night. Ole Miss added two runs in the second inning, and the visitors tacked on one more in the top of the fifth.

Mayers pitched five innings, allowing three runs on four hits with a strikeout and two walks.

The next three Ole Miss pitchers made their Division I debut. The first two were Tommy John surgery and rehab products. Sophomore Blair Wright came in and pitched two innings of no damage with a strikeout. Junior Jon Andy Scott pitched an inning with two hits, three strikeouts, and a walk but no runs. Then redshirt freshman Brooks Oursler went the last frame with a strikeout and two walks.

Fifth-year senior Matt Smith also returned to the lineup after two missed games because of arm soreness. He went 0 for 3 with a walk playing first base.

"I took a couple of days off and did some rehab," Smith said, who tore ligaments in his throwing arm the first game of his redshirt freshman year. "It does feel a lot better. On Sunday in Houston was probably the worst my arm has felt."

Smith credits trainer Tony Barnett for his quick progress.

"Tony's done a good job getting me back in the game and in game-shape," he said. "It's just going to be one of those things where I play and see how it feels the next day. If it starts acting up again, I'll take some time off. Right now I'm trying to make it through the season and still be able to help out the team as much as possible. Tonight it felt good."

Barnett, with so many rehabbers back on the field, was awarded the coveted postgame t-shirt the program has handed out to its player of the game for years.

Add Matt Snyder, who with his oft-injured shoulder hit a three-run home run to right center in the fifth inning, and Barnett's resume' for this one was complete. So was the scoring for the night.

"He had two Tommy John guys, he got Snyder to hit the home run, and Matt Smith's back in the lineup," Bianco said. "So the shirt definitely goes to Barnett tonight."

Tanner Mathis led the Rebel hitting attack with a 3 for 4 night. Ole Miss outhit Austin Peay 12 to 6.

Ole Miss hosts Tulane for three games this weekend. Times are set for Friday at 6:30 p.m., Saturday at noon, and Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

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