As Ole Miss ran off the field following the top of the fifth, the players were forced to duck and dodge oncoming debris. Pieces of aluminum were being scattered out in front of the Rebel dugout.
Pitchers Justin Cryer and Brett Bukvich instrumented the scene in an attempt to "wake the bats up." After all, slumber was the best way to describe Ole Miss' offensive effort to that point.
The Rebels (17-11) were rendered hitless by Memphis pitching and trailed 4-0 halfway through Wednesday's contest when the bats were flung- a symbolic gesture to spark the team and try to loosen up the mounting tension.
Soon after, the impromptu tossing worked.
Ole Miss responded with a four spot of its own and added the decisive run an inning later to notch a come-from-behind 5-4 victory over the visiting Tigers (11-16) in front of a sparse crowd at Swayze Field.
The Rebels generated eight hits in their final four at-bats and escaped what would have been a crushing defeat.
"Coach Bianco always said if we're not going to wake the bats up, the pitchers are going to take it upon themselves to wake them up for us," Michael Guerrero said. "Easton had just shipped in five new bats. They had some pop."
Guerrero and Zach Miller led off the fifth with back-to-back singles, and Jeremy Travis followed by relieving at least part of the offensive frustrations with one swing. Travis took the first pitch he saw over the left-field wall and cut the Memphis advantage to one run.
"They woke mine up pretty good," Travis said.
Logan Power drove a pitch back up the middle three batters later to score Brett Basham and tie the game.
Guerrero curved a slider just inside the foul pole an inning later for the Rebels' fifth and final run. He and Miller both rapped two hits on the night.
While the offense was struggling to get going, the Rebels bullpen was busy putting up zeros. Nathan Baker, Rory McKean, Scott Bittle and Justin Cryer combined for 8.2 innings of shutout relief to get starter Phillip Irwin off the hook.
Irwin recorded just one out and was victimized for five hits and four runs along with one walk. The leadoff hitter reached on a free pass, and the Tigers took advantage by mixing in bloop hits and solid line drives.
"I won't lie when those first four runs come on the board, we were like ‘oh crap, here we go again,'" Travis said.
Baker entered with one out in the opening inning and men on first and third and quickly induced a 6-4-3 double play to end the jam. In all, the sophomore pitched 4.2 innings and scattered five hits.
It was a redeeming effort from Baker, who was removed from the starting rotation this past weekend. After failing to obtain much run support in his last three starts and being put behind the eight ball early Wednesday, the left-hander kept his composure and worked out of all jams.
"I didn't know what to think at the time, so I focused on filling up the zone and throwing strikes. That is the way to get those guys out," Baker said.
When Baker allowed the first batter in the sixth inning to reach, McKean came on and polished off two innings. Bittle and Cryer each worked a perfect inning to finish off the Tigers. Cryer picked up his second save of the season.
McKean was awarded the win and is now 3-0 this season.
"We played some good defense, and the bullpen came through when it was so important," Bianco said. The relief guys were very dominant after such a disappointing outing by Irwin."
Phillip Utley (1-1) took the loss for Memphis with 0.1 innings and one run allowed.
Tiger starter Brach Davis surrendered four runs on five hits in five innings. He carried a no-hitter into that fifth inning.
Ole Miss continues its nine-game homestand with a three-game series against Vanderbilt. Friday's first pitch is at 6:30 p.m.
Rise and Shine
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