Reds Win!

Brett Huber was smiling after his Red team won game one of the Pizza Bowl. He was still smiling when game two was over and they'd won the title. But he was already looking toward the collective team of baseball players and next spring.

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"This team competes, and there are a lot of winners on this team," he said of the 2012-13 Ole Miss Rebels. "Nobody likes to lose."

His team was the one that got the winning t-shirts and won the right to eat pizza Friday. The team that came up short was competitive both days and could have won the series as well.

"Since I've been here - this is my fifth year - this is the best Pizza Bowl I've been a part of," said Huber, whose team defeated "Coach" Tanner Mathis' Blue squad in two straight extra-inning games. "These were even teams. No doubt about it."

There were some impressive offensive performances in game two for both teams. Junior transfer Lance Wilson, vying for the second base spot left vacant by the departure to the pros of all-star Alex Yarbrough, had two triples, two singles, two RBI, and two runs scored.

Wilson, on Huber's winning Red team, said early in the fall he felt some pressure to perform and try to win a spot. Now, however, he said he's much more relaxed. And it showed.

"When I first got here, I was pressing a little bit and trying to impress," he said. "But that's something you've got to get out of your head quick and just play the game. They brought me here for a reason, and I just want to play, have fun, and keep competing."

Sophomore Sikes Orvis went 3-for-5 with two doubles and four RBI for the Blue team. Also for the Blue, sophomore Will Allen was 3-for-5, and freshman Christian Helsel was 2-for-4. Sophomore Austin Knight was 2-for-5.

On the Red side, Auston Bousfield was 2-for-5 with an RBI, while freshman Tyler Jackson had a bases-clearing double and three RBI.

On the mound, sophomore Josh Laxer was the starter for the winning Red team, pitching three innings, allowing four runs on eight hits with two strikeouts.

"For the most part, I felt good out there," Laxer said. "The fall is for correcting your mistakes, and now I have some things to work on for the next few months."

Laxer said the younger pitchers have progressed, and he believes his own performance in 2013 will benefit from being a year older in the program.

"We've all taken things from this fall and we're all improving," the right-hander said. "I just feel like this year I know everything that's coming at me and I can slow things down and think about what I'm doing. That's helped me the most, just slowing things down."

Josh Laxer
Bruce Newman

Junior righty Aaron Greenwood also pitched for the Red, working five innings and allowing two runs on four hits with a walk and three strikeouts.

Senior right-hander Tanner Bailey drew the start for the Blue team. He pitched three innings of six-hit, four-run ball with a walk and three strikeouts.

Freshman right-hander Connor Jordan, for the Blues, worked two innings and gave up two runs, one earned, on three hits with a walk. Also for the Blues sophomore Hawtin Buchanan went three innings with a hit and five strikeouts.

Wilson said his first Pizza Bowl, in addition to winning it, was fun from a lot of perspectives.

"It was so competitive by both teams," Wilson said. "There were very few strikeouts in both games, and that's a really good sign we're fighting with two strikes and we're not letting a pitcher beat us. That's something Coach (Cliff) Godwin preaches to us every day."

Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said it was quite the fall classic.

"The best Pizza Bowl ever," he said. "The best Pizza Bowl ever in (my) 13 years. I thought both teams played great, played very hard, lot of emotion. Two games in extra innings, it's amazing one team swept. Either team could have won. That's how close it was."

There were several holdouts for the series and for the fall, actually. It's been noted returning junior starters Bobby Wahl and Mike Mayers haven't pitched in the fall to rest up for the spring season. Senior outfielder Tanner Mathis is allowing a recurring oblique injury to totally heal.

Huber is 100 percent but is still letting his elbow recover from cleanup surgery back in early summer. Junior transfer LHP Austin Blunt has taken the fall off to recover from some arm soreness. Freshman catcher Holt Perdzock had a strained oblique as well.

Sophomore outfielder Senquez Golson is playing football this fall.

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