Rebs race past Thoroughbreds

Ole Miss came out of the gates roaring against Murray State and raced past the Thoroughbreds 15-5 Tuesday night.

The Rebels, 26-15 on the season, scored five runs in the bottom of the first inning to give starter Nathan Baker, who allowed nothing in the top of the first, some working room.

"Hats off to my hitters," said Baker, who improved to 2-4 on the season with several hard-luck outings when his hitters didn't help him that much. "When we got five runs in the first, I knew I'd have a lot of support tonight."

The visitors closed a 6-1 Rebel lead to 6-4 with three runs in the top of the third. But after Ole Miss failed to score in the bottom of the third, Baker came back and shut MSU down in the top of the fourth.

"It was important to put up a zero after they cut it to 6-4," the sophomore left-hander said.

Baker pitched six innings, allowing two earned runs on just two hits with 11 strikeouts and three walks. The 11 Ks were a collegiate career high.

"He was terrific out there tonight," said UM head coach Mike Bianco. "It's the best I've seen him pitch since he got here. His slider looked good and he had the ability to miss a lot of bats and struck out a lot of people."

Equally impressive was the Rebel offense. Ole Miss unleashed a barrage of 21 hits, topped by Fuller Smith's solo home run on a 4-for-5 night for the Rebel senior captain, who also had two RBI and two runs scored.

"We haven't had one like this in a while," said Smith of the Rebel O. "It was good for us to go out there and get it done."

Bianco said the productivity of the Rebels at the plate was good to see.

"You love it anytime you can hit like this," he said. "We got some good swings off in the first inning, and we also had some good swings throughout the game and also some good fortune."

Like a nine-run bottom of the sixth which increased that 6-4 UM lead to 15-4 and put the game away. Murray State added a run of no significance in the top half of the eighth inning.

In addition to Fuller Smith's big night, another Smith, freshman Matt, had one of his best offensive efforts of the recent past.

"Anytime you get 21 hits, it's a good thing," said the Rebel first baseman, who had three of them himself on a 3-for-4 night with a double, an RBI, and three runs scored.

Matt Smith said the Rebels need to keep doing more of the same in future games.

"It's kinda do or die for us right now," he said. "We've got to focus on every at-bat in every game."

Logan Power was 3-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored. Zach Miller was 3-for-4 with three RBI and two runs scored. Logan Williams was 2-for-5 with three RBI and a run scored. Brett Basham was 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored.

Every position starter had at least one hit for the Rebels.

After Baker's night was done, Rory McKean came in and pitched an inning, with a hit and a strikeout. Matt Tracy finished the contest for the Rebels, allowing five hits in two innings with one run and one strikeout.

Matt McGaha, one of four pitchers used by MSU, suffered his first loss of the season. McGaha gave up nine runs on 13 hits, including five runs in the first, as he walked one and struck out one in 5.1 innings of work. The Thoroughbreds fell to 14-21 on the year.

Wednesday night the Rebels are at Arkansas State. Brett Bukvich (1-1, 5.84 ERA) will start for Ole Miss.


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