Last-Day Win

ATHENS, Ga. – Ole Miss didn't need to get swept at Georgia. So the Rebels won Saturday's finale 8-3.


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The Rebels, who dropped the first two games in the series 8-4 and 6-3, needed something good to happen early, and two runs in the top of the first inning helped. A Will Allen triple with two Rebels aboard was the big hit of the inning.

Mike Mayers had some cushion to work with and pitched well, especially out of a huge second-inning jam. The bases were loaded with Bulldogs, and the sophomore right-hander struck three consecutive batters out – Brandon Stephens, Curt Powell, and Levi Hyams – to keep the Rebels ahead by two runs.

After Georgia cut the UM lead to 2-1, Ole Miss had a three-run fourth inning for a 5-1 lead. John Gatlin doubled in Andrew Mistone who had reached on a walk. A Tanner Mathis single got Gatlin home. Blake Newalu, who had reached on a single, scored on a throwing error by the catcher.

Georgia got close at 5-3, but the Rebels extended the lead in the top of the seventh with two runs and the top of the eighth with a run for the final advantage.

"I thought we played very well today, and I'm proud of the way we came out on the field," Mike Bianco said after his team improved to 24-12 overall and 7-8 in Southeastern Conference play. "It would have been easy to be human, feel sorry for yourself, and wait for somebody to win the game for you. Today I thought we were terrific in all phases."

The Mask

Mike Mayers had some right field grandstand help. The "Michael Myers" masked man from the left field terrace in Swayze Field made his way to Foley Field here to lend his stoic support.

"He told me Florida weekend he was coming," Mayers said. "That's pretty cool."

Mayers, who went 4.2 innings allowing three runs on six hits with six strikeouts and five walks, said it shows the type support the Rebels get for the game.

"It's awesome," he said. "No place else like Ole Miss to play baseball."

Mayers, the pitcher, said the second inning was a big key for him and the team.

"I just stuck with the gameplan," Mayers said. "I stayed low in the zone and located my fastball. That second inning, my fastball really worked against those guys. They're a great lineup and they were able to fight off a couple of pitches and hit a couple of balls off the end of the bat. It might have been a jam shot in there. Give them credit for battling and making me work. Really I just stuck with the process."

Bianco said it was more than a moment. He said it was the game.

"That was the ballgame, and that's why he got the shirt," said Bianco of his starter receiving the "winning shirt" after the game. "I don't know if we had another guy who could have gotten through that inning and the first five innings than Mike. Just a gutsy performance, and he just handled it."

Mayers said he knew the importance of the contest.

"We can't come on the road and get swept. I knew the offense was going to respond. I couldn't let (Georgia) have a big inning. I had to give our offense a chance today."

Reliever Chris Ellis (3-0) actually got the win.

More opportunities for the offense

The Rebels had 20 hits but only eight runs. In what has become somewhat of a trend, they are leaving too many runners on base and not getting them home in timely fashion. Like Saturday when there were 14 left stranded.

On the other hand, Georgia left 11 on the bases with 10 hits.

"There were a couple of opportunities, and not just the two-out hit but I think we left a guy at third three times with less than two outs," Bianco said. "Just too many hits and too many good at-bats mixed in."

Veterans Listened

The older players met after the Friday night game with their head coach in the outfield. There was talk of staying the course and being there to help the younger players feel good about a bad situation.

Mathis, 4-for-6 with 2 RBI, said it was a needed message.

"Coach (Bianco) told us we have to stick together," Mathis said. "The younger guys look up to us. He's right. They do. We've been there before."

Bianco said it's all about staying in the game and playing the next game no matter the situation.

"One of the great things about this game is you've got to keep fighting, you've got to keep competing," Bianco said. "You've got to wait for your time for it to fall for you and to get hot.

"I don't think we've been hot yet," Bianco concluded.

Ole Miss (24-12 overall, 7-8 SEC) and Mississippi State meet in Pearl Tuesday in the Governor's Cup game at 6:30 p.m.


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