Ole Miss beats USC 6-0 to take series

It's not often fans are able to witness a pitching masterpiece. Lance Lynn pitched one Saturday as 5,592 watched. More will likely say they were in attendance than actually were on hand. And it was on SportSouth live, so who's to dispute the claim.

Ole Miss beat South Carolina 6-0 to improve to 10-7 in Southeastern Conference play and 27-14 overall. That was the storyline. Lynn was the headline.

Nine innings, no runs, three hits, a career-high 12 strikeouts, and two walks. That was the sophomore right-hander's final line.

But the Rebels had to score runs and play defense, which they ultimately did better than South Carolina on this day, just like they had done on Friday night in an 8-5 Ole Miss win.

The Rebels, ranked 19th now, have won an important series this weekend against a team currently ranked among the nation's top 5. South Carolina fell to 30-10 and 9-8. The Rebs go for the sweep on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. It's what they want. They aren't satisfied.

"A sweep's big," said senior first baseman C.J. Ketchum, 1-for-3 on the day with an RBI. "They're hard to get, and epecially so against a quality team like South Carolina. We know South Carolina will bring their 'A' game, so we definitely need to bring ours."

The Rebels have done that for two days. In Saturday's affair, they were able to get two runs in the bottom of the fifth, which Lynn admitted was enough the way he felt on the mound. Zach Miller singled the first pitch off USC left-hander Arik Hempy to start things that inning. Kyle Mills then singled, and Fuller Smith came in to pinch run.

Ketchum then bounced the first pitch he saw that inning over the head of USC first baseman Justin Smoak to score Miller as Smith wound up at third. Brett Basham's fly ball to center field scored Smith. Hempy was able to get the Henry brothers, Jordan and Justin, out in the next two at bats.

But the damage was done, and Lynn took it the rest of the way, along with an errorless Rebel defense. South Carolina, which had three miscues on the day, has six errors for the series.

In the bottom of the eighth, the Rebels got a little insurance off junior right-handed reliever Curtis Johnson. Make that a lot of insurance. Basham reached on an error by third baseman James Darnell as his throw to first pulled Smoak off the bag. The door was open for more Rebel runs.

Jordan Henry bunted and an error on reliever Curtis Johnson, who threw the ball away down the first base line toward the visiting bullpen, allowed Basham to score and Jordan to reach third. Justin Henry singled to score Jordan, and the lead was 4-0. Zack Cozart and Cody Overbeck struck out, but Logan Power reached on a single to score Justin, and he moved to second on an error by the USC left fielder who let the ball get away from him near center field. Evan Button singled up the middle to score Power and a 6-0 UM lead.

Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said Lynn, 4-3 on the season, was going back out to pitch the ninth inning if the lead was two or six.

Bianco also said credit needs to go to Hempy, who is having a comeback season from Tommy John surgery. The junior lefty had surgery last April. The loss to the Rebels was his first of the season against three wins.

"What gets lost in all this is how well Hempy pitched," Bianco said after the Gamecock hurler went seven innings allowing two earned runs on five hits with six strikeouts and no walks. "We were able to bunch some hits together that one inning (the fifth), and that's what you have to do."

South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner said Lynn was unbeatable on this day.

"He was going to beat any team in the country today," the veteran USC mentor said.

He also said Hempy, now 3-1, was solid for his ballclub.

"Arik kept us in the game," Tanner said. "He hung in there and gave us a chance to win depsite Lance Lynn dominating us like he did."

Ole Miss ended the game with nine hits to USC's three.

It's in the record books now, and for the Rebels Lance Lynn simply had one of those days on the mound. Like Stephen Head had done to these same South Carolina Gamecocks in 2003, his freshman season, a 2-0 win on a Sunday.

Like Matt Maloney had done to Mississippi State in a two-hit, 5-0 win in 2005. Or like Jamey Price had done back in 1995 when the Rebels beat LSU 6-0 on a Friday night. Or when John McNeese beat Auburn 2-0 on a Friday night in 1994. There have been some but not many quite like it here.

"Today was special," Ketchum said.

A win on Sunday and special will sum up the entire weekend for these Rebels. Nathan Baker, freshman left-hander who has two wins in his only two SEC starts, will be on the mound for Ole Miss. For USC either freshman right-hander Blake Cooper (5-0, 1.82) or sophomore left-hander Will Atwood (1-1, 2.79) will start.

Bianco said he is excited to again have Baker (5-1, 3.15) on the mound for a Sunday contest.

"Nathan's got as many wins as anybody we've got," said Bianco, as behind Baker the Rebels salvaged a win at LSU and won the series against Georgia. "Every time he goes out there, he gives us a chance to win. And we've got the entire bullpen ready to go."

OM Spirit Top Stories