Sunday Sweeper

Sam Smith gave Ole Miss a chance, again, and the Rebels' bats finally got going late on Sunday in an 8-3 win against Missouri to complete the sweep. The Rebels are now 21-4 overall and 4-2 in Southeastern Conference play.

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Smith pitched into the seventh inning. But when two Tigers were aboard, Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco sent Matt Denny in to relieve him. Smith's day was done with Mizzou up 2-1 at the time.

"Unfortunately we didn't score enough runs for him early," Bianco said, after Smith eventually allowed three runs but only two of them earned, along with a walk and a strikeout. "What Sam does and why he has so much success is he keeps it in control and doesn't let an inning blow up on him. There were innings they could have scored more runs, but he wouldn't let that happen."

"I didn't feel like I had my best stuff today, but I battled and defense made plays," Smith, the junior right-hander, said. "Hitting came around at the end. And once we broke the ice, the flood gates opened."

Both teams got a run each in the seventh. After Hawtin Buchanan, who relieved Denny, kept things in check for a while, Wyatt Short came on with bases loaded in the Missouri eighth and the Tigers up 3-2.

Short got Logan Pearson to strike out swinging, and Keaton Steele to ground out.

Bianco said Short, who is now 3-0 with the win, was a key in this one.

"There's certain times in a game where there are momentum shifts or turning points. Certainly that's the one that stands out to me," Bianco said. "With bases loaded and one out and he gets a strikeout and a ground ball to end the inning to keep the difference at one."

Ole Miss, which finished with 10, had only four hits through seven innings.

Brett Graves, Missouri's ace who was injured before the game started Friday when he was hit by an errant throw and was scratched from the lineup, started Sunday. Graves was relieved by Keaton Steele to begin the Rebel eighth. Steele had been in the DH position for the Tigers Sunday.

Will Jamison led off with a single to right. Cameron Dishon went in to pinch run for Jamison. Errol Robinson sac bunted Dishon to second. Auston Bousfield then singled to the shortstop who didn't get the throw to first in time. Bousfield was safe and Dishon scored to make it 3-3.

"One of Dishon's main roles for us is as a pinch runner. He can come in and steal," Bianco said. "Not that Will (Jamison) can't steal. But when the game's on the line, I want my best guy trying to steal. We were trying to bunt. But if we didn't get the bunt down, we would be able to steal.

Cameron Dishon
Bruce Newman

"I thought it was a really gutsy play by (assistant coach) Cliff (Godwin) to send him home (on the single to short by Bousfield)," Bianco continued. "That's what a good coach does. He saw the shortstop go up the middle to make the play and that it was going to be a tough play for him. Once he scored, we were able to have a big inning."

Now with the game tied 3-3, Braxton Lee was hit by a pitch, and Austin Anderson singled to right to get Bousfield home for a one-run Rebel lead. Orvis then singled to right and Lee scored to make it 5-3 Rebels with still just one out.

Dalton Dulin then singled to get two more runs in for a 7-3 advantage. After J.B. Woodman flew out to center field, Dishon then bunted right in front of the plate as Orvis raced home from third.

That's the way things stood at the end, and the Rebels had the sweep. The Tigers fell to 11-12 and 1-5.

Bianco said getting the sweep helped offset the fact that Ole Miss lost the series at South Carolina last weekend. The Rebels had four errors against Missouri Sunday, and he said the Rebels stayed the course until the game was won.

"After that tough Saturday where we left one on the table the first weekend, we knew we'd have to sweep down the road," he said. "But we hung in there and that was the key. We kept it close enough that we could win it."

Austin Anderson agreed.

"This was big," the third baseman said. "We're not 3-3, we're 4-2. Big difference. Sweeps are hard to come by in the SEC. Definitely big for our team."

Ole Miss plays Southern Mississippi in Pearl Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

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