Bounce Back

Ole Miss couldn't get the timely hit Friday night and lost to LSU 4-3 in 13 innings. On Saturday they not only were timely but effective in just about every way. As a result, the Rebels won an important game 7-4.

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Had they lost, they'd have fallen to a troubling 10-13 in Southeastern Conference play. As it stands they head into Sunday's series finale 11-12 in league play and 31-17 overall. And Sunday has been a troubling day.

The Rebels will send Dylan Chavez to the mound for his first start of the season after 20 relief appearances. It's the fourth different Sunday starter in four weeks for the Rebels since Mike Mayers started on the last day at Georgia – which was actually a Saturday. Still, however, the final day of that series.

Then it was Sam Smith, who was roughed up early against Arkansas. Then Tanner Bailey at Mississippi State with the same result.

Now it's Chavez, who was announced after Saturday's game and unavailable for comment. He's the only left-hander with a significant number of innings pitched for the Rebels this season. Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said they'd been considering Chavez for a while. But things had to fall right.

"It just hasn't worked in the sense that he has either pitched on Tuesday or relieved on Friday," he said. "We had a good bullpen session Thursday. He even warmed up (Friday) night. The plan all along was to start him this Sunday."

He will for sure give the Tigers a different look. They haven't seen a left-hander from Ole Miss yet.

What they saw Saturday was an effective Mike Mayers, who gave up four earned runs in four innings before giving way to an even more effective bullpen.

Bailey, rebounding solidly from the terrible start against MSU last weekend, pitched two innings and gave up two hits with two strikeouts. That was followed by an inning from Chris Ellis with a strikeout. And Brett Huber for two innings with a walk and two strikeouts.

It was Bailey who got the win to move to 2-1.

Zach Kirksey jump-started the Rebels. Ole Miss trailed 4-1 after the top of the fourth. But in the bottom of the fourth his solo home run began a three-run inning for the Rebels and tied the game.

Auston Bousfield after his home run
Bruce Newman

Kirksey said the Rebel offense, with 12 hits, was better Saturday.

"Obviously we have the offense to put up a lot of numbers," he said. "We got in their pen, and Boz (Auston Bousfield) got the (home run) late to put us ahead. It was a pretty good game offensively."

It was actually the best one ever as a Rebel in the home run department for the freshman Bousfield. His two-run shot in the seventh was his first of the season and gave Ole Miss a three-run lead.

But he literally used the whole field. The ball hit the left field foul pole for the round-tripper.

"It knew it was gone, it was just a matter of would it stay fair," Bousfield said. "Thankfully it did."

Huber hadn't closed in a while. He looked good in his time on the mound Saturday. He said he will be available again Sunday.

"It's been a while," said Huber, after he got his eighth save of the season. "All you've got to do is go out there and fill the strike zone up and let them hit the ball. I was ready to go today. With R.J. (Hively) throwing 100 pitches last night, I knew I'd be the guy at the end."

LSU has used 10 pitchers in two days, and one of them – reliever Brent Bonvillain – in both games.

"The more pitchers they throw, I'm sure the better off we are," Kirksey said. "It doesn't matter who we face, we'll be ready to play."

Bianco said he and the coaching staff tried not to talk too much to the team about making sure to get the timely hit, to get runners in when they are in scoring position. He believes they understand that, and it's obviously something they work on continually – just don't dwell on verbally.

"We haven't talked about it a ton," Bianco said. "We've tried to stay the course."

And on Saturday, it worked.

Sunday's start is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

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