Split Decision

The Ole Miss baseball team ended its weekend by splitting a doubleheader with Auburn Saturday afternoon, April 18, at Plainsman Park. The Rebels (20-20, 8-10 SEC) cruised to a 7-2 victory in game one before the Tigers (25-16, 7-11 SEC) earned the split by winning the second contest, 14-0.

Although Ole Miss only had one scheduled doubleheader at the beginning of the season, Saturday's twinbill marked the eighth of the year for the Rebels.

Ole Miss returns to the friendly confines of Swayze Field for a busy week of baseball. The Rebels will play five home games in a span of six games, starting with a make-up contest against Central Arkansas, April 21. The next day, Memphis comes to Oxford for a midweek matchup as the two squads will square off for the second time this season. Wrapping up the week, Ole Miss will host Alabama in a three-game set, April 24-26.

GAME 1: Ole Miss 7, Auburn 2

Ole Miss got three hits apiece from sophomores J.B. Woodman and Errol Robinson, while senior Austin Knight knocked in a career-high four runs en route to a 7-2 victory in game one. The Rebel sluggers smacked 13 hits, and the Ole Miss arms limited Auburn to just two runs to leave 13 Tigers stranded on the base path.

"Coach Bianco said in the (pre-game) meeting, when we score first and throw the first punch, usually we are going to have the momentum and carry it over the entire game," noted Robinson.

Colby Bortles and Will Golsan added multi-hit games, combining for three RBI. Bortles increased his hitting streak to eight games, while also reaching base for the 17th-straight contest. As a team, the Rebels recorded five doubles in the game. The Ole Miss offense forced reigning SEC Co-Pitcher of the Week Keegan Thompson (7-3) out of the game early, scoring three runs off of the Auburn starter in two innings.

The other SEC Co-Pitcher of the Week, senior Scott Weathersby (2-1), put together a better performance than his counterpart. Weathersby tossed 2.1 innings of relief and gave up one run while striking out three Tigers. Sophomore Wyatt Short (6) pitched the final 2.2 innings to shut the door on Auburn and earn his team-leading sixth save of the season. Starting pitcher Brady Bramlett went four innings, allowing one run on three hits.

The Rebels wasted no time getting on the board, scoring a run in the opening inning for the 12th time this season. Woodman blasted a ball to deep left field that nearly left the yard; however, the ball bounced off the top of the green monster wall, and the sophomore rolled into third for a one-out triple. While the infield creeped in for a play at the plate, Golsan was able to hit a chopper that scored Woodman. The RBI groundout gave Ole Miss the early one-run advantage.

Ole Miss continued its fast start with a pair of runs in the second inning. Sikes Orvis led off the inning with a walk before Robinson belted a ground-rule double into the left-center field gap. With two runners in scoring position, Knight knocked in his teammates by finding that gap as well. His double rolled all the way to the wall to clear the bases, increasing the Rebels' lead, 3-0.

Bramlett kept Auburn off the scoreboard in the first four innings, retiring the side twice and also getting out of a pair of jams that left five Tigers on base. Auburn finally got to the Ole Miss starter in the fifth; the first two batters reached base, ending Bramlett's day as Weathersby entered out of the bullpen. A sacrifice bunt followed by an infield single plated a run for the Tigers, but Weathersby limited to damage to just the single run to keep Ole Miss ahead, 3-1, through five innings.

The Tigers cut the lead in half with a run in the bottom of the seventh, snapping the Ole Miss bullpen scoreless streak at 25.1 innings. After two runners reached base on Weathersby, Short entered the contest. A base hit up the middle scored one, but Short forced a big groundball double play on the following batter to end the inning. With seven innings in the books, the Rebels found themselves ahead, 3-2.

The Rebels got the run back that they gave up in the seventh, and played add-on with a total of three runs in the top of the eighth. Ole Miss tallied three straight singles, the last one a base hit by Bortles that plated Woodman from second. Later in the inning, the bases were loaded for Knight. The senior catcher lined a ball off the diving third baseman's glove that squirted into left field and scored a pair of Rebels. The two-run single increased Knight's RBI total to four on the game and gave Ole Miss a little breathing room with a 6-2 cushion.

"We were able to extend the lead late once they (Auburn) got back into it," mentioned Ole Miss Head Coach Mike Bianco. "It was just a well-played game by us."

Ole Miss added an insurance run in the ninth, and Short held Auburn from threatening in the bottom half as the Rebels knotted the series at one game apiece with the five-run victory.

GAME 2: Auburn 14, Ole Miss 0

Auburn used hot bats to take a 14-0 victory in game two. The Tigers racked up 19 hits in the series finale.

Connor Cloyd went 2-2 to record his fifth multi-hit game of the year and second in as many days. Freshman Nic Perkins pinch-hit for Cloyd late in the game and singled to give the leadoff spot three hits. Orvis doubled for the second time on the afternoon, recording his team-leading 10th two-base hit of 2015. Robinson added another single to complete a four-hit doubleheader. On the mound, freshman Will Stokes (1-4) suffered the loss.

Auburn scored a run in each of the first two innings to claim the early advantage, 2-0, with the help of five hits. After Stokes kept the Tigers from adding to their lead in the third, Auburn recorded five runs to increase its lead to 7-0 after four inning of play. The Tigers added two more big inning to take the final game of the three-game set.


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