Maybe it was a blackberry winter's day, as some call it, this cool snap of late April that moved into Oxford overnight and hung around as the Ole Miss baseball team pushed past Louisiana-Monroe 12-6 late Wednesday afternoon.
What it clearly was, though, was Monroe, La., Day at the ballpark. Not only was the opponent from the northern part of our neighboring state to the southwest, a couple of Rebs from there had big days.
Junior outfielder Alex Presley, from Monroe, saw to it that things got started off right with his leadoff home run in the bottom of the first inning that gave the Rebels a 1-0 lead.
Not to be upstaged, fellow Monroe Neville High teammate turned Ole Miss teammate, Peyton Farr, getting the nod at first base Wednesday, went 2-for-5 with two RBI.
That's Peyton Brister Farr, the nephew of Bubby, the former NFL quarterback, who celebrated his 22nd birthday with his best day ever as a diamond Rebel.
"I came up a couple of times with some runners in scoring position," said Farr, a third-year sophomore with the Rebels. "I just wanted to help us win the game.
"It's my birthday. It's my hometown team," continued Farr, who had already appeared in 17 games this season but hadn't started a contest his entire UM career. "I guess it's kinda like a Hollywood script. My first start, too. Everything worked out well for me and for the team."
Only an appearance by another one of their high school baseball teammates since turned totally to football, Robert Lane, would have made this an even more special day for the Monroe Rebels. Of course that wasn't going to happen since Lane has all his attention toward the gridiron now.
I viewed this game from the backside. Several of us sat together in the leftfield terrace area, visited, watched, and experienced how those folks take in a baseball game at Swayze Field.
It's different, and it's harder to keep your attention on the game, it seems. But it can be done despite the distractions and the distance.
Like we obviously saw Presley's early dramatic moment of the game that got things rolling. And we noticed that the Rebels ran through six pitchers during the nine innings – starter Tommy Baumgardner, Bradley Lum, Jesse Simpson, Stoney Stone, Jon-Jon Hancock, and Garrett White.
And we saw true freshman Evan Button, with a solid defensive performance, start at second base in place of regular second baseman Justin Henry, who is out with a hand injury. Coach Mike Bianco said Henry should be ready for Friday night. At least that's the hope.
And we watched redshirt freshman outfielder Logan Power continue to prove his worth as a collegiate ballplayer, going 3-for-5 with a double and an RBI.
And sophomore shortstop Zack Cozart continue his clutch hitting with a single and a double and a couple of RBI.
And junior closer Garrett White pitch masterfully out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam he inherited in the top of the eighth.
Simpson, from Zachary, La., was the third pitcher used by Ole Miss and actually pitched only one inning – the sixth - but got the win. Funny game, baseball.
Ole Miss led 5-1 through two innings, but when Simpson came in to pitch, the score was tied 5-5. After a couple of Indians reached on singles with one out, the freshman righty got ‘em to fly out and ground out to end the threat.
Ole Miss then scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth to lead 9-5, and that was basically that. ULM would have no second rally left in them.
The Rebel head coach said he was pleased to get to play some different players and see them respond.
"It's nice when some kids who don't play much get in the lineup and have success," Bianco said.
The Rebels have now won seven consecutive games, six of them against teams from Louisiana.
"When you're rolling and playing well, everything's easier," said Presley, 3-for-5 with three RBI on the day. "When you're struggling, things are a lot tougher. Right now we're playing really well. We're getting lots of hits (14 of them against ULM). We're playing good defense, and our pitching's been good. It's not routine by any means, but we hope to keep it up."
The Rebels get that chance against Tennessee this weekend. Ole Miss and the Volunteers play three games in Oxford as the Southeastern Conference season continues to move toward the all-important month of May.
"It's another big SEC weekend, and there'll be some big crowds," Presley said. "Hopefully we can win three."
Rebs win 27th game on cool late April day
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