It was as if the seventh-inning stretch helped 17th-ranked Ole Miss wake up Tuesday night. At least it woke up their bats.
Actually the Rebels, who beat Nicholls State 11-7 in Oxford before 3,842 fans, had hit the ball fairly well in the previous six innings. They just had little to show for it.
Up to that point it had been the Colonels who had taken advantage of timely hitting to produce some runs. In the top of the seventh, NSU scored two runs to take a 7-3 lead at stretch time.
But back to back two-RBI shots - a single up the middle by Chris Coghlan followed by a home run over the left field foul pole by Zack Cozart - tied things at 7-7, and it was obviously a different ballgame.
Before that big seventh inning was through, Jon-Jon Hancock delivered a two-out, two-RBI shot to the right field wall to make it 9-7 Ole Miss, and things were indeed looking up for the Rebs with six runs in the frame.
"We had so much momentum already at that point, and I just got a pitch to hit," said Hancock, 2-for-4, both doubles, in the contest with the two RBI. "It seems like lately anybody on this team can get a hit. We weren't winning some of these games earlier in the season. Lately we've been able to come back and win them."
"You've got to hand it to our offense," said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco, whose team improved to 31-15 on the season. "They hung in there and were able to finally get it going and put the big inning together."
The Colonels, now 12-35 on the season, used four pitchers in the contest, and all four of them pitched in that bottom of seventh. Chris Greer started and pitched effectively until running into some trouble in the inning. Brett Basham's single had led off the seventh, followed by an Alex Presley walk. That's when Greer came out.
Prior to that inning Greer had only allowed three runs on seven hits with two strikeouts and one walk. But his coaches pulled him in favor of reliever Aaron George who found the going rough. The third pitcher used by Nicholls, David Burch, actually got the loss to fall to 3-3. Brian Sparks relieved Burch after Hancock's two-out, two-RBI double and went the rest of the way.
"Greer was able to move the ball in and out and really mix up the pitches," Bianco said. "Sometimes the whole game is based on just a few pitches at critical times, and he was able to deliver the pitches for them."
The Rebels added two runs in the eighth for insurance off Burch as Mark Wright doubled in a couple of Rebel batters who had reached on a single (Coghlan) and a walk (Cozart). A double steal during Wright's at-bat got them to second and third.
Cody Satterwhite, the third of five Rebel pitchers in the game, got the win - his fourth straight win in relief - to move to 8-2 on the season.
Garrett White came in late for Stoney Stone to pick up his seventh save of the season.
"Garrett was tremendous," Bianco said. "It's a two-run game with a runner on first and we had to go to him," Bianco said. "That's Garrett's time when we get in those save situations. He continues to look sharper and sharper and is getting back to the way he was a few weeks ago."
"This was another big win," White said. "We're trying to get to Omaha. These midweek games are so important. Coming in to close I just have to come in and do my job and get outs. I am feeling more like I did at the start of the year now. I'm getting my confidence back."
Ole Miss started Tommy Baumgardner, and Jesse Simpson relieved him before giving way to Satterwhite.
Coghlan, 3-for-5 with four RBI, hit his second home run of the season with a solo shot to tie things in the first. But Nicholls added two runs in the second and two more in the third to put the Rebs in a hole.
A Rebel run in each of the fifth and sixth cut it down to 5-3. But that's when the Colonels added two in the top of the seventh to lead 7-3.
And that's when the Rebel offense really went to work.
"We came out a little flat and they put some runs up early," Coghlan said. "We didn't play with the enthusiasm early that we should. Their starter pitched well. But towards the end we stepped it up when we needed it and got the win."
The Rebs head to Kentucky for three games this weekend. Both UM and UK are 13-8 in Southeastern Conference action, tied for second place with South Carolina behind Alabama who is 15-6.
UM bats come alive late to down NSU 11-7
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