Lynn tosses game of the year

Lance Lynn received a thunderous ovation as he dusted off No. 4 South Carolina in the eighth inning.

The tribute was even more deafening a frame later after the burly sophomore capped off one of the best-pitched games of the Mike Bianco era.

Lynn shutout the Gamecocks, allowed three weak hits along the way, and pushed No. 19 Ole Miss right back into the conference race with a 6-0 victory before an electric attendance of 5,592.

"I had good stuff today," Lynn said. "It was the best stuff I have had in my career here. When I start off the game dumping in curveballs, I know it's going to be a long day for the hitters."

Lynn described Saturday as a long day, but it was actually a short afternoon. The right-hander struck out a career-high 12 batters during the brisk 2:21 minute affair.

The situation was tense as the Rebels clung to a 2-0 advantage until the bottom of the eighth when the floodgates opened. Lynn threw a fastball by pinch hitter Drew Martin to end the top half, and the standing applause pumped up the Rebel offense as well.

A four-run outburst followed which left little doubt to the outcome. Lynn faced four batters in the ninth and fittingly took care of the final out himself.

"I threw the fastball by him, but it was especially the fans," Lynn noted. "They are the best fans in the country, and they got behind us so we go out and put up a four spot."

South Carolina hitters could develop nightmares about Oxford since the last time they were blanked during the regular season was also here in Swayze Field. Then-freshman Stephen Head fired a complete game shutout in 2003 as Ole Miss defeated the Gamecocks 2-0. Ole Miss' last complete game shutout was in 2005 when Matt Maloney flustered Mississippi State in a two-hit, 5-0 victory.

"Lance Lynn was really good today," USC head coach Ray Tanner said. "I don't remember anyone handcuffing us like that in a long time. He would have beaten anyone in the country today."

South Carolina notched their first hit in the third inning and coupled with a walk put Lynn in his only jam of the outing, but a strikeout and a groundout thwarted the threat. USC would not get multiple base runners on the rest of the game.

"It is hard to really get at him (Lynn)," Bianco said. "He just doesn't get beat up. He is a big bear out there, and the bear usually wins the fight. You may scratch and claw and make the bear mad, but he is coming at you."

Lynn was roughed up a bit at LSU last weekend and wasn't happy with his mound work over the week, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing.

"I had some mechanical problems in LSU with my front side was flying open," Lynn said. "I watched tape to correct it, but I wasn't worried. I throw better when not having good bullpens. I was kind of excited."

Lynn cited command of all his pitches and wasn't worried even before the insurance runs were added. Catcher Brett Basham also reveled in the experience and knew it would be a special day.

"It was the best pitching performance I have seen in my life," Basham said. "It was a lot of fun to catch. They couldn't hit the fastball. They just couldn't catch up. We could almost tell them it was coming, and it wouldn't have mattered."

With the win, Ole Miss is now 10-7 in the SEC and two games back of Arkansas. The Rebels are tied with Mississippi State in the standings but trail the Bulldogs in win percentage thanks to two MSU rainouts.

Ole Miss goes for the sweep tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. with Nathan Baker starting for the Rebels.

"We talked all week about making a statement," Lynn said. "We haven't played well so far, but maybe after the last few games we are here and letting everyone know that we are coming after them."

South Carolina heard him loud and clear on Saturday.

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