Power Start

MOBILE, Ala. – What looked like a potential runaway Rebel win early turned into a close battle not long afterward as sixth-ranked Ole Miss beat Liberty 6-5 in game one of the Coca-Cola Classic.

The Rebels put up four runs in the first inning, but the Flames answered with four of their own in the third. The race was on.

Ole Miss got what proved to be the winning run in the seventh. Logan Power, playing like the five-year veteran he is, singled up the middle to lead off and also chase Liberty starter Dustin Umberger.

Taylor Hashman followed with a pinch-hit walk to put Rebels on first and second with no outs. After Evan Button (2-for-4 in the game, 1 RBI) failed to reach and there was one out, Power stole third on Zach Miller's at-bat, and Hashman followed suit, heading for second.

Miller's fly ball to left got Power home.

"We really needed to get a run right there," said Power, 2-for-3 with three RBI and three runs scored. "He (Liberty reliever Steven Evans) was really quick to the plate. But I tried to read him and do the best I could to get to third. And it worked out."

Certainly it did, especially so since he also got home.

"Logan's a great base-stealer," said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. "It turned out to be the play of the game. When you talk about things like how to win awareness and things that make a difference, people look at home runs or errors and things like that. But that was what basically won the game. He steals and Miller has his best at-bat of the day and gets him in with the sac fly."

Power had the big bat of the day, and his first-inning home run shot over the left field wall gave Ole Miss a 4-0 lead.

Matt Smith had given UM its first run on an RBI single to right, scoring Jordan Henry who had reached on a single.

Power's long ball drove in Michael Hubbard, who had walked, and Smith.

Along with Evan Button's single which followed, the Rebels got four of their eight hits in that first inning.

Things stayed that way until the third when Liberty got to Barrett for four runs to tie things up.

Ole Miss scratched out another run in the bottom of the fifth to take a 5-4 lead. Button drove in Power with a single to right after Power had reached on a hit by pitch.

Liberty tied it 5-5 in the top of the sixth after shortstop Kevin Mort let a ball get through his legs and into the outfield, allowing Errol Hollinger to reach. Tyler Bream's double drove Hollinger in to knot the contest up.

That's when Power took things into his own hands, so to speak, and led his team to victory.

Of course he had plenty of help on the day. The Rebels used four pitchers with starter Aaron Barrett going five innings, allowing four earned runs on six hits with seven strikeouts and a walk.

"Early on I definitely had a little bit of the jitters," said Barrett, a junior right-hander in his first Division I game after a junior college career. "But it was definitely exciting for me, and I just tried to go out there and compete and give our team a chance to win."

After Barrett, Jake Morgan went two innings (1 unearned run, 1 hit, 3 strikeouts, 1 walk), David Goforth an inning (1 hit, 2 strikeouts), and Scott Bittle an inning (1 hit, 1 strikeout).

Morgan got the win and Bittle the save. Umberger (6 innings, 6 earned runs, 8 hits, 5 strikeouts, 3 walks) was charged with the loss.

"I thought Aaron was tremendous," Bianco said. "People look at the four runs (in the third) and the no decision, but he was really dominant today. He really looked terrific. He gave us an opportunity to win."

Bianco was pleased with how his team responded after the game was tied 4-4, especially his pitchers.

"We kept our composure. We hung in there. We continued to make pitches," he said. "All four guys pitched terrific."

Junior college RHP transfer Chris Corrigan will follow in Barrett's steps Saturday and take the mound for the first time in D-I baseball against Mercer at 2:30 p.m.

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