Bounce Back

Austin Knight, of powerhouse Mississippi high school program Sumrall, was a late addition to Ole Miss' incoming class last summer and came in as a member of the highly-ranked recruiting class last fall. Saturday, drawing his first start, Knight produced in the Rebels' 11-3 win.

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He actually caught the seventh and eighth innings of a loss Friday night to visiting Miami (OH) after starter Will Allen had departed the game with a fractured little finger on his throwing hand.

"I didn't find out Will was hurt until after the game," said Knight, who lettered four seasons and was a part of four straight high school state championships coached by his father, Larry. "Coach (Mike) Bianco said ‘You're going in. They're going to steal. Throw someone out. That's all I knew. I knew I had to go in and do my job."

So he went in and threw out a Redhawk runner heading from first to second. He admitted some nervousness overnight prior to the Saturday game, his first collegiate start.

"There were some butterflies at first," he said. "I didn't actually know until I got to the field this morning. Once we got on the field, everything flowed well. Having R.J. (Hively) out there throwing the way he did today made my job really easy."

Hively, who moved to 2-0 with the win and pitched six innings of no-run, two-hit baseball with seven strikeouts and just one walk, said Knight was solid behind the plate.

"Austin Knight did a heck of a job being thrown in there," Hively said. "He did really well."

Bianco said Knight came through like he expected him to.

"Terrific for your first college start, and Hively is probably the most difficult to catch of all the guys," Bianco said. "The fast ball just sinks and dives so much, his four-seam ball cuts a little bit, and his two-seam ball goes the other way and sinks down into a right-hander. And then a hard slider. (Knight) did a great job receiving. He did a great job blocking the balls up."

Knight also went 2-for-4 at the plate with a RBI.

"He even executed a hit and run for his first hit and ended up getting another hit in there for an RBI," Bianco said. "So a great day by him."

Knight said he's learned you have to be ready to go in at any time.

"We're taught to have a routine every day. Our routine is a part of the process, and we're always going to be ready, even if we're not playing," he said. "If they put is in in the ninth inning to pinch hit or come in and catch, we're always going to be ready.

Austin Knight
Bruce Newman

"I had a tough fall, but I started figuring it out," Knight continued. "Coming back in the spring (semester), I had a pretty good (preseason) catching-wise. Just trying to be patient once the season starts to get your chance."

He will likely get several more chances to catch in the days ahead.

"It was stressful at times not knowing what all was going to happen," Knight admitted of the past few months. But I'm very excited to get my shot, and hopefully we can continue to play well and win games."

Knight said his mother was in attendance Saturday but his father and brothers had games and will make the trip to Oxford Saturday night for the Sunday game.

So does he feel like a veteran, Knight was asked?

"Not yet," he said. Not yet."

Give it a few games.

Better Day At The Office

Hively said it was important for the Rebels to get on track Saturday after a disappointing 9-8 loss to the Redhawks Friday night.

"I went out there and I wanted to throw up a zero quickly and get momentum back for us," he said. "We got ahead early, and the defense made some plays in the first."

Hively said it was a good day for him and for the team.

"It was one of those days where everything was in the strike zone," he said. "I threw 74 pitches and 28 were balls. When you can do that, and that's all of our pitchers who came in, we didn't walk too many people. You force them to hit, and our defense makes a lot of plays for us."

The Rebels scored three runs in the first inning and three runs in the second inning, and a major tone was set in this one. Two veterans, Alex Yarbrough and Tanner Mathis, led the way at the plate with three hits each.

Ole Miss, now 8-2, outhit the Redhawks, 4-4, by an 18 to 8 margin.

Miami starter Brooks Fiala, the first of five pitchers used by the visitors, got the loss and is 1-2.

Blair Wright pitched the seventh and eighth innings for the Rebels (1 run, 3 hits, 1 strikeout), while Jon Andy Scott pitched the ninth (2 unearned runs, 3 hits).

"I thought we played well today, and I was proud of the way we came out and played after not playing well yesterday," Bianco said. "I thought R.J. was tremendous. Just really locating his slider. And for the offense to come out and score six runs in the first two innings made it a little easier. Pretty well played game."

The two teams wrap up the series at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

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