Big Bounce Back

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Ole Miss unleashed its offensive attack on Louisville in the finale of this two-game series Wednesday afternoon and beat the Cardinals 18-8. Louisville won game one 4-3 Tuesday night.

Follow SpiritJeff on Twitter

The Rebels, 14-3, now head back to Oxford to open Southeastern Conference play this weekend with a three-game set against Auburn.

Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said it was a good day for his team.

"Proud of the way we played today, and not necessarily because of the spread of the score," he said. "To be up 2-0 in the top of the first and then come out and really take one on the chin and get knocked down with a five-spot, and to be able to answer and hang in there, just a great offensive day for us."

It was fairly apparent Ole Miss was going to have some offensive success early. The Rebels put up the two-spot Bianco referred to in the top of the first inning. They were a couple of unearned runs after Tanner Mathis and Austin Anderson led off with singles.

But it was the bottom of the first that made things look dismal for the Rebels – at least at that moment. Starter Josh Laxer was knocked around and gave up five runs on six hits.

Ole Miss outhit Louisville 22-7 in the contest. Five pitchers after Laxer – Tanner Bailey, Blair Wright, Aaron Greenwood, Jon Andy Scott, and Casey Mulholland – allowed just one hit after the first inning. Some hit by pitches and walks in the fifth inning led to the only additional runs in the game for the Cardinals.

Bailey, who got the win, started the second inning for the Rebels and pitched into the fifth inning. By then Ole Miss led 15-5 after an offensive explosion that included a third-inning grand slam by Zach Kirksey and a two-run round-tripper for Matt Snyder.

After Louisville pulled it to within seven runs at 15-8, Ole Miss got it back to ten runs with a solo home run by Kirksey, a RBI double by Austin Anderson and a RBI single by Alex Yarbrough.

Bianco said he credits more of the early offensive approach by the Cardinals than what Laxer wasn't getting done in the bottom of the first.

"They just came out like gangbusters today," he said of the Cardinal hitters. "It just seemed like whatever Laxer threw, they were going to hit, fast ball, slider, in, out, didn't matter. It was amazing. It wasn't just fast balls. It was breaking balls, changeups, faced nine batters and gave up six hits. They were locked in. Just one of those tough innings."

Bianco said today's win was big for his team heading into Southeastern Conference play.

"When you've had as much success as we've had and then to play hard and to lose (like Tuesday night) against a good team, that game was emotionally draining," he said. "I loved the way we came out today and scored in the first, got knocked down, got back up, and played."

Kirksey And The Long Ball

The Rebel offense was on fire all day. Tanner Mathis with five hits and Will Allen with four led the attack. But it was Zach Kirksey who made the most noise with his grand slam and his solo shot.

"There was never any doubt we'd come back and score runs," Kirksey said of being down 5-2 after an inning. "We knew we'd swing it, and it was kind of like a Sunday game, in a sense. We got the bats rolling, and Tanner Bailey pitched incredible. He came in and shut them down. A bunch of guys had a big day offensively."

Kirksey said he felt good about his day after a not great Tuesday. But he still wants to do better.

Matt Snyder
Bruce Newman

"I had too many bad at-bats last night, especially with runners in scoring position," said Kirksey, who went 0-for-4 in the Tuesday night game. "There were two times I could have gotten a hit and moved a runner, and we ended up losing by one run. I kind of felt responsible. I had some poor at-bats today, too."

Except for those two over the fence.

Kirksey said he had a little help in making sure today was better than yesterday and when those opportunities arose, to be mentally ready.

"Coach (Cliff) Godwin actually talked to me about that, just calm down and stay loose, not try to do too much," he said. "So I sat on fast ball and tried to get my best swing off. I was able to put a good swing on them."

Kirksey admits the Rebels are ready for conference play as far as he can tell.

"Lot of confidence going in," he said. "We're swinging the bat well, pitching well, and we're excited."

Putting Out The Fire

Tanner Bailey said he knew what he needed to do when he came into the game to start the second.

"I was just trying to make pitches and just put up a zero for us. We really needed it," Bailey said of entering to start the second inning. "These guys (teammates) played so hard all day and put up runs for us. I knew I had to put it in the zone and let the defense work."

Bailey said things were working for him from the get-go.

"Just hitting spots with the fast ball and locating my breaking ball early in the count," he said. "Just saying to myself to just make pitches and keep the ball down in the zone against the guys."

Bianco said Bailey was just what the Rebels needed at that time.

"Proud of Tanner Bailey. He came in and get nine outs in a row," Bianco said. "That was the first time in the two games that we'd done that. Even in a 4-3 game, they had baserunners the whole night.

"He located well and threw a tone of strikes," Bianco continued. "Being able to throw your breaking ball in the strike zone, that helped him. He mixed it up and kept them off balance."

Bailey said the accolades offensively are for just about everyone.

"The offense with Zach Kirksey and Matt Snyder hitting the home runs, but just the guys in front of them getting on base, like Mathis and Yarbrough, you can't ask for anything more to put up 18 runs," he said. "After the five-spot they had kind of hit us in the mouth. We just needed to put up a zero, get out feet under us and realize there's a lot of game left. Our offense is going to score runs for us. We just had to keep putting up zeroes and keep playing defense."

Gods Unkind Right Now:

Senquez Golson has found the going rough lately. He was 0-for-8 with one walk these two games.

"I told him in the dugout it's the baseball gods and it works that way," Bianco said. "He comes out and has some great at-bats. But he had some balls that fell in for him and some good fortune the first few weeks. Now he hit like four balls in these two games right at the third baseman and hasn't had a lot of good fortune.

"The double play ball they played him in the six hole, and it's usually a base hit for him," Bianco continued. "So he just didn't have a lot of good baseball fortune. Just keep swinging and keep barreling balls up."

OM Spirit Top Stories