Rebels rally to beat Maine again

Jon-Jon Hancock and C.J. Ketchum provided key hits, while Garrett White relieved starter Nick Hetland and slowed down the Maine attack.

Jon-Jon Hancock delivered a base-clearing double in the bottom of the sixth inning, and relievers Garrett White and Jesse Simpson stopped an early Maine offensive attack as 19th-ranked Ole Miss beat Maine 7-5 in game two of their weekend series. The Rebels and Black Bears play game three Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

Ole Miss, trailing 4-1, had tied the game 4-4 in the bottom of the fifth with three runs, including a two-RBI single by C.J. Ketchum.

The Rebels then took the lead when Hancock came through in the bottom of the sixth inning. Alex Presley walked, Zack Cozart safely bunted, and Justin Brashear walked. Up came Hancock who unleashed a blast to right center field which got everybody on base home and himself to second as the Rebs led 7-4.

"I felt bad after Wednesday (when he struck out with men on second and third to end a 3-2 loss to Samford) that I couldn't win the game for the team," Hancock said. "I was glad to have a chance to do something good today."

Ole Miss had just one hit off Black Bear starter Nolan Boike through four innings, and collectively against two Maine pitchers (including reliever Scott Robinson), the Rebs only got six hits all day.

"And a couple of those were bunts," said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco, whose team improved to 5-1 on the young season. "So not our best day offensively. But we got some key hits and moved some people around to produce some runs."

Bianco, tossed from the game by the infield umpire in the bottom of the second, said White was a real key to victory in this one.

"The big difference in the game was when Garrett came in," said Bianco, mentioning White entered with the Bears having scored two runs to lead 4-1 and with Ryan Quintal at the plate and runners on first and third with two outs. "He struck out Quintal and really sent a message by pitching strong the next few innings that it was going to be tough to score on him."

White came in for starter Nick Hetland, who went four and two-thirds innings, allowing four runs, two earned, on four hits with two walks and three strikeouts. He'd given up a two-run home run in the top of the first to Quintal.

White, who got the win after pitching three and a third innings allowing two hits and one unearned run with four strikeouts, said he came in and knew what needed to be done.

"I just came in and tried to minimize the runs," said White, a left-handed juco transfer who signed with the University of Texas out of high school, who entered the game with his team down 4-1. "I just wanted to keep them off balance and use my slider and my fast ball to do that. It's fun to get out there when the game's on the line and try to stop them from scoring more. Offensively they're a bunch of scrappers. They can flat-out swing it. I just had to come in and pump strikes and keep them off balance with the slider."

Bianco said he watched the game from the second inning on underneath the stadium on olemisssports.TV.

"Not our best game but we found a way to win," Bianco said. "Give Maine credit. They competed hard and did a lot of good things offensively to push some runs across and defensively as well."

Rebel newcomer Jesse Simpson, only with the team since January, got the save in only his second appearance. The right-handed freshman pitched the ninth with a hit and a strikeout.

Hancock said he expects more of the same from Maine on Sunday in the series finale, which should be another competitive battle between the two teams.

"They swung the bats well last year and are doing it again this year," Hancock said. "They came out and competed again today, and I know they will again tomorrow."

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