Back On Track

A seven-run fourth inning pushed Ole Miss past Georgia Sunday as the Rebels salvaged a win, 12-7, and ended a skid that had the Rebels losing six of their last seven games.

"A little better day today," said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco, in a bit of an understatement. "It's one of those that you're proud of the guys after playing so poorly for the last several games, they came out today with a lot of energy, a lot of belief, and put a good game together."

Ole Miss (20-13, 5-7 SEC) had 18 hits, but Bianco said it was pitching that led the way – namely Austin Wright.

"He was terrific today," said Bianco of his Sunday left-handed starter who is 4-3 on the year with the win. "He was sharp and really attacked. He really commanded the zone, and it wasn't the easiest outing. He had to go down to the bullpen in the fourth (when Ole miss continued to get hits and score runs). And sometimes that can be frustrating for a pitcher to have such a long wait, especially the way the games have been flowing this year with only a couple of minutes from the time you step off the mound."

The Rebels scored a run in the second on a Preston Overbey RBI single, and two runs in the third as The Rebels added two more runs in the third when Matt Tracy came up with a two-RBI single to put Ole Miss on top 3-0.

After a two-run homer by Brett DeLoach in the top of the fourth cut the Rebel lead to 3-2, Ole Miss got things rolling its way with the seven-run bottom of the frame.

The Rebels sent 12 men came to the plate with back-to-back singles from Taylor Hightower and Will Allen before Jordan Poole walked to load the bases. The Rebels then got three straight singles and a walk before Hightower came up with his second hit in the inning – a two-RBI shot up the middle – to cap the rally and put Ole Miss up comfortably 10-2.

The Rebels got it to 12-2 before Georgia crept back in it. Bobby Wahl pitched the final inning and looks to be a candidate for closer with Jake Morgan out at least another week. The freshman hard-throwing right-hander gave up a two-run homer to Curt Powell before shutting the Bulldogs down with no more damage.

Georgia had 13 hits off Austin Wright, blair wright, and Wahl. Still, the Rebel offense looked as good as it has all season.

Tanner Mathis
Bruce Newman
"A lot of hits, and I don't mean just a lot of this. Some better at-bats, and being able to bunch them," he said. "Saturday, they don't give us any base runners – no walks, no errors. We hit into three double plays. It's amazing with eight hits (Saturday), we only left two on base because of home runs. We just had no opportunities. If we did get a hit, that was it. There was just one chance every inning."

Bianco said it was good to see the Rebels so effective at the palte after so many games this season where they struggled.

"Today we were able to get some hits. We were able to bunch it together and get some hits. I thought we had several good at-bats where we took pitches, got in good counts, and got some big, clutch hits at 3-2, 3-1. Again we were able to put the at-bats together one right after another, rather than a good at-bat and a couple of bad at-bats."

"I was excited with our energy today. We talked about handling the adversity. We talked about confidence and feeling good. Feeling good is a choice. You can choose to be miserable anad feel sorry for yourself, or you can choose to fight and compete and enjoy the game. Certainly we did that today."

Rebel Notes:

* Catcher Taylor Hightower continues to prove his worth at the plate. Given more opportunities lately, the junior from Cartersville, Ga., was 4-for-5 Sunday with two RBI.

"Not just offensively, but defensively he's caught great," Bianco said. "Proud of him , a kid that was a starter last year who lost his starting position at the end of the season, came out and battled and every opportunity he's had, he's been terrific.

"He's a great leader, he's got great energy, and somebody that's as talented as him that hasn't played as much as him, I think it's easy to get down and not bring that energy. To me, he's one of the reasons we've been able to stay the course."

"I just try to grind out the at-bats," Hightower said. "Coach (Matt) Mossberg has worked extensively on two-strike approach. We go up there and try to follow each at-bat with another good at-bat. That's what we did today."

* Matt Smith's home run Saturday was the 40th of his Ole Miss career. He is now tied with Brad Henderson, who happens to also be the all-time hits leader at Ole Miss. Kyle Gordon leads in career home runs with 48.

* The Rebels move on from here for a game against Southern Mississippi in Pearl Tuesday night. Senior LHP Matt Tracy will get the start again on the mound.

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