Breaking Back

ATHENS, Ga. – With the chances to answer Georgia dwindling and the race to Hoover ratcheting tighter by the day, Ole Miss strung together a series of at-bats that saved this particular Saturday – and possibly some of the season's goals.

The No. 25 Rebels entered the eighth inning trailing by a run, but 11 batters later, Ole Miss was coasting and the series was soon to be tied at one apiece. On the strength of a six-run eighth frame, the Rebels overwhelmed the No. 8 Bulldogs 9-4 and snapped a three-game conference losing skid.

Georgia (30-15-1, 16-6-1) won Friday's contest, 5-4, and the two teams meet for the rubber match at 1 p.m. (CDT)Sunday. Alabama has taken the first two games from Arkansas and holds the tie breaker over the Rebels (31-18). Both the Tide and Ole Miss are 12-11 in the SEC. Meanwhile, LSU is a half game back. The Tigers swept a Saturday doubleheader against Kentucky.

Six different Ole Miss batters registered multiple hits, andthe combination of Drew Pomeranz and Scott Bittle stifled several Georgia opportunities with clutch pitching. The Rebels rapped 14 hits to only six for the Bulldogs.

"That was a big eighth inning," Mike Bianco said. "We got a walk to open, and then we swung it for a while, really some good swings we got off."

Bittle (4-1) picked up the victory, working 2.2 innings and allowing just one hit while striking out six. The junior entered with one out in the seventh trailing by one and a runner on first.

Pomeranz was solid and kept Georgia off balance except for two costly pitches. The Bulldogs launched a pair of home runs off the freshman, including a three run shot by Rich Poythress to give Georgia an early lead. With a man third, the Rebels chose to walk national home run leader Gordon Beckham and pitch to Poythress.

During the seventh, Ryan Peisel broke a three-all tie with along ball of his own. A walk followed, and Pomeranz's dayended. The Collierville, Tenn., native scattered five hits and walked five as well. Pomeranz struckout three.

"We didn't have Bittle quite ready (in the seventh),"Bianco said. "Thought Drew pitched pretty well, and you just have to tip your hat to Peisel. He hit a curveball onthe first pitch out of centerfield. Just some bad fortune on Drew's part."

Piesel may have led Georgia to answering for the second time, but the Rebels provided the definitive blow minutes later.

A string of five straight hits at one point, and the banging around of three different Georgia pitchers occurred during the pivotal eighth frame. Logan Power began with a walk, and Cody Overbeck doubled him home a batter later.

After a sacrifice bunt by Matt Smith and a sacrifice fly from Zach Miller, Michael Hubbard and Sean Stuyverson both singled, Brett Basham and Jordan Henry deliveredback-to-back doubles, Fuller Smith singled, and Power,hitting for the second time in the inning, reached on an error to end the lengthy offensive display.

"Once you get a couple hits, they start coming easier, "Overbeck said. "We put up the blow today, and that needs to carry over."

On the day, Henry, Fuller Smith, Overbeck, Hubbard,Stuyverson and Basham all produced two hits.

Ole Miss scored one in the first for a quick lead, before Poythress' shot put Georgia up 3-1. The Rebels scratched for single runs in the fifth and the seventh to tie the game.

The Bulldogs missed chances by stranding a runner at third in each of the first two innings. Ole Miss was errorless, while Georgia committed two mistakes.

"I thought our defense was really the difference," Bianco said. "Georgia has some runners on, and we made the necessary plays and even handled some really tough balls. The outfield and infield made some things look easy today. Basham continues to be great back there."


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