Against the Gamecocks in game one of the weekend series, the Rebels were as timely as could be, scoring seven of their eight runs with two outs and taking advantage of opportunities when they were presented.
"If it's going to happen like this, then this is the time for it to happen," Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said as the second half of the SEC season begins, his Rebs now 26-14 overall and 9-7 in the league. "Part of me says we deserve this. We haven't had our share so far this season."
Clutch hitting off USC starter Harris Honeycutt started early for Ole Miss in this one. In the bottom of the first after starter Will Kline had sent the Gamecocks, who fell to 30-9 and 9-7, to the dugout three up, three down, Cody Overbeck sent a two-out single to left to score Zack Cozart who had singled with two outs and stolen second.
After another three up, three down inning for Kline in the second, Evan Button sent a two-out pitch over the right field wall to give his team a 2-0 lead.
After Kline's third straight nothing-doing inning, the Rebels detoured from the script for a moment. Overbeck singled and scored Justin Henry who had reached via a one-out walk.
With the 3-0 lead, the Rebels appeared to be on cruise control behind Kline. But in the top of the fourth the powerful Gamecocks scored three runs to tie things up. Harley Lail led off with a double; then Kline hit Travis Jones with a pitch on a 3-2 count. A triple by James Darnell scored both Lail and Jones. Justin Smoak hit a ground ball to Button who raced to the bag for the out as Darnell scored. A ground out and a line out ended the inning with the game at 3-3.
Ole Miss answered immediately with three runs to take a 6-3 lead. With two outs Basham singled, Jordan Henry singled, and Justin Henry singled. A throwing error on the second baseman allowed the Henrys to advance to second and third and Basham to score. Cozart reached on an error by the third baseman as both Henrys scored. But Cozart was thrown out trying to reach second.
"It was huge to score those three runs," said Kline, who allowed five runs on five hits with six strikeouts and two walks in seven innings and one batter of work. "It was like every time they had a chance to breathe, we kept smothering them. They put up three and then our offense came back and put up three."
"They scored two runs after that, but you could tell by their body language they were like 'We just scored three runs and they answered right back.' That's a killer," said Button, 2-for-4 with 2 runs scored. "We've been in that situation ourselves, so we know."
The Gamecocks, with three errors in the contest, did get a run in the top of the sixth to cut it to 6-4 and could have gotten more, but pinch hitter Robbie Grinestaff grounded into a double play to end it.
The Rebels, who outhit USC 11-5, added a run in the seventh to lead 7-4 as Overbeck beat out the throw from the USC third baseman which scored Jordan Henry who had led off the inning with a triple.
In the top of the eighth, Jones led off with a double off Kline, and the Rebel starter was relieved by Cody Satterwhite. Jones scored to make it 7-5 on a ground out by Darnell, but Satterwhite got a strikeout and a ground out from the next two Gamecock batters.
Following the game script once more in the bottom of the eighth, there were two outs when the Rebels got a single to left from Button. After stealing second, Button scored on a base hit by Basham to make it 8-5. Jordan Henry grounded out to end the inning.
Satterwhite finished the game a bit shaky in the ninth, walking a couple of batters but ultimately giving up nothing.
"We kept getting those two-out runs, and it just took the wind out of their sails," said Overbeck, 3-for-4 on the night with 3 RBI.
Honeycutt (7-2) got the loss; Kline (5-1) the win; and Satterwhite his second save of the season.
The Rebels now have the opportunity to take the series as they face the Gamecocks at 4 p.m. Saturday.
Rebs timely in defeating Gamecocks 8-5
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