Game Story By: Jeff Roberson
Ole Miss took advantage of four Auburn errors and claimed the series from the Tigers with a 7-4 victory Saturday at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field.
On a baseball perfect afternoon weather-wise, the Rebels claimed the series after winning 6-4 Friday night.
“I thought for the second day in a row and really for four games in a row for us, we’ve looked really good at the plate,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “(The Tigers) are a team that can sometimes be hard to figure out on the mound, because they really mix their pitches. They’re not your traditional ‘when they’re behind they throw fast balls, when they’re ahead they throw breaking balls.’ Their two starters threw sliders in just about any count but had enough fast balls to beat you. But we looked comfortable in the box throughout the lineup and not just from a handful of guys. Lot of good swings. Lot of good at-bats.”
Bianco admitted they have been more aggressive on the bases.
“We talked about it coming back from Alabama,” he said. “Sometimes when you’re not scoring and the base runners are so precious, you tend to be conservative. I thought we were a little too conservative. Coach (Mike) Clement and I talked about it, that we’ve got to push the envelope a little more. We thought we would run at the beginning of the year and that hasn’t been the case. We’ve needed to get back to stealing bases, hit and run, bunts, start runners when we’re deep in the counts. That all started back on Tuesday in Memphis (a 7-0 Ole Miss win).”
Henri Lartigue had two hits as did J.B. Woodman. Ryan Olenek had three hits of the Rebels’ 12 on the day.
“We went out there and threw the first punch and tried to have quality at-bats,” Lartigue said. “That’s all you can ask for. You can control having a quality at-bat. Our guys did that today.”
The Rebels are now 30-10 on the season and 9-8 in Southeastern Conference play. It’s the 19th season in a row, 16 of them under Bianco, that the program has won at least 30 games. Those 30 wins already match last season’s win total of 30 and that was an NCAA Tournament team.
On Saturday the Rebels got a run in the first inning after the first of the Auburn mistakes. Two more Tiger errors came in a four-run second inning for the Rebels. Michael Fitzsimmons reached on one of those Auburn miscues, and Kyle Watson doubled to put Rebels at second and third. Ryan Olenek singled to get both home and give Ole Miss the early lead.
A Tate Blackman sac fly got Errol Robinson home after the junior shortstop had walked. A Woodman base hit scored Olenek. It was 5-0 home team after two complete, and the Tigers were in a hole.
The Rebels got five and a third innings from starter David Parkinson, who allowed two runs with four walks and two strikeouts along with six hits.
“When we made that change three weeks ago (to move Parkinson to the Saturday starting role), that’s what you hope for. We needed somebody to give us a lift and to give us an opportunity to win on Saturday,” Bianco said. “It wasn’t the prettiest line today, but at the end of the day it’s only two runs through six. He’s got three pitches and he was able to make some pitches today.”
“I felt good out there, and I felt even better in the later innings,” said Parkinson, with the win now 2-1. “I just try to go out there and fill up the zone and try my best. (Run support) makes things a lot easier. Instead of missing off the plate, you can miss over the plate and let your defense make a lot more plays behind you. It’s a lot easier.”
Connor Green came in and had a solid 2.1 inning outing, allowing two runs on two hits with three strikeouts and two walks.
Bianco said Green has done well in his role and did so again today.
“He was really a lift we needed,” Bianco said. “We’ve been able to save the bullpen a little bit (for Sunday).”
Things had rocked along after the early UM lead as the teams swapped runs a couple of times. Ole Miss led 7-2 heading to the eighth. But the Tigers chased Green, and in came Will Stokes again, the hero of the Friday night contest.
Stokes gave up a two-RBI single but was able to shut things down in the eighth with Ole Miss up 7-4.
After a scoreless bottom of the eighth for Ole Miss, Stokes took the mound again in the top of the ninth and ended things quickly.
Ole Miss looks to sweep Auburn in game three of the series on Sunday. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. CT. The game will be televised on the SEC Network and streamed online on Watch ESPN.