Rebs Walk Off With Win

When the Rebels were down by one run in the bottom of the ninth inning to South Alabama Tuesday, Fuller Smith said he knew the team was going to come through with a victory. That seems to be the kind of confidence the Rebels' current six-game winning streak has produced.

Ole Miss (21-11) defeated South Alabama 6-5 on Sean Stuyverson's walk-off home run in the bottom of the tenth inning, but it wasn't before a gutsy rally in the ninth that sent the game into extra innings.

"I think that's why we're a different team now," Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. "The last couple of weeks we seem to still be in the game when we're down some runs. You can see the energy in the dugout, you can see that the swings are still there and you're going to start pecking away at it, and today we did."

There was a buzz in the stands at Swayze Field when Cody Overbeck, who did not start the game because of a bad bout with shin splints, walked to the plate to pinch hit in the bottom of the final frame. Overbeck drew a leadoff walk and was replaced by Jordan Henry on the basepath.

Fuller Smith advanced Henry to second on a sacrifice bunt, and Jeremy Travis then reached on a fielder's choice.

Logan Power then elicited a roar from the home crowd when he reached out and poked a single through the left side of the infield to score Henry from second to tie the game 5-5. Prior to Power's final at-bat, he had been the only Ole Miss starter without a hit in the ballgame.

"We knew we were going to win and that's the thing; you have to know you're going to win and you have to expect it to happen," Fuller Smith said. "We'd been expecting it; we were knocking at the door a few times."

Stuyverson had several chances to do some damage during his at-bat in the tenth inning, and finally deposited a 2-1 fastball from South Alabama pitcher Blake Bryan over the right field wall.

"I thought I should have hit that 2-0 pitch. I was kind of mad at myself but I got another right after and put a good swing on it," Stuyverson said. "To be honest I thought it might be off the wall but when I saw it go I went crazy; it was definitely a rush. You can't really describe it. It's unbelievable to come up in the bottom of the tenth to be able to do that."

Ole Miss nearly doomed its bid for a sixth consecutive victory during a wild third inning where South Alabama scored all five of its runs.

The Jaguars (18-14) used two fielding errors by the Rebels in the frame to plate five runs after Ole Miss starting pitcher Nathan Baker had retired the first two batters of the inning by virtue of a strikeout and groundout to the second baseman.

Five straight South Alabama batters reached base safely, and the first two runs scored when catcher Brett Basham attempted to make an acrobatic tag on a runner at the plate. The ball bounced out of Basham's glove, allowing Jake Overstreet to score, and another run crossed the plate as the ball rolled to the backstop.

"It was just a weird play at the plate," Bianco said. "Bash almost has it, catches the ball, and almost makes a great play. Sometimes that happens when you try and make a great play, the guy knocks the ball out of his glove and of course Nathan wasn't there to back up and then runners start to get around the bases."

Save for the one fluke inning, Baker pitched an effective 5.2 innings in his first midweek start since being replaced in the weekend rotation by freshman Drew Pomeranz. Baker allowed the five runs on six hits, but did strike out six batters.

Scott Bittle (3-1) picked up the win in relief after working a perfect top of the tenth inning. Rory McKean chipped in to the relief effort with 3.1 innings of scoreless baseball after Baker was pulled in the sixth.

One interesting note in the top of the tenth inning; Jordan Henry played infield for the first time in his Ole Miss career when he came in at second base.

"Overbeck has got really bad shin splints and we knew he wasn't going to be able to play tonight," Bianco said. "And with Evan (Button) out with the back we needed another infielder so we turned to Jordan. We brought him out to take some ground balls before the game, and the plan wasn't to get him out there this early, but we knew there was a chance."

Ole Miss and South Alabama will play the second game of the midweek series Wednesday at Swayze Field beginning at 6:30 p.m.

*** Kyle Henson Update

Bianco announced that backup catcher Kyle Henson, who was suspended for the first 28 games of the season by the NCAA, has a strained ligament in his elbow and is day-to-day.

"It's just one of those things where he's not ready to do it yet, physically," Bianco said.


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