Bottom Nine Walk-Off

What Scott Bittle didn't quite finish, David Phillips did as Ole Miss beat Austin Peay 8-7 Tuesday night.

The Governors got to the Rebels' ace closer in the top of the ninth after Ole Miss took a 7-5 lead into the frame. But uncharacteristically so for the senior, Bittle gave up two runs on three hits as the game went to the bottom of the ninth.

But up stepped pinch-hitter Phillips, a junior left-handed batter, and the first pitch of the night that he saw, he sent over the right field wall.

"I'd just gone out to give Bittle a high-five coming in," Phillips said, "and Coach (Mike) Bianco told me to get loose. So I just sat down and got my mind right and went out there and hit."

That he did. And he lifted the Rebels, now 8-3, to victory as they host the Governors again at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

"I was just up there waiting for my pitch, and when I got it I hit it," said Phillips, who obviously got the pitch he wanted rather quickly. "It was a first-pitch changeup. I had looked at the pitching charts before, and I had decided he (Dylan Ray) might throw me a changeup. So I got up there, saw my pitch, and hit it."

Bianco said the home run was obviously big, but he wasn't all that pleased with how the Rebels performed in parts of this one.

"A great college baseball game, and a big home run by David there at the end," he said. "A great cut. It was kind of an up and down game. At one point it looked like we had control of it. But credit them, and we don't play the best defense. The inning got away from us, and that's disappointing. We've got to do a better job in not giving up the big inning."

The big inning the Rebels gave up was in the fifth when they went from leading 3-0 to trailing 5-3. In the top of the frame there were five APSU hits and five runs as well as two Rebel errors.

Ole Miss got a run back in the bottom of the sixth when Brett Basham grounded out to second, scoring Zach Miller who had reached on a walk.

Down 5-4, the Rebels got three runs in the seventh as Matt Smith, 3-for-5 in the contest, got a leadoff single to get things started. A Miller fly ball later got Smith home. Kevin Mort, 3-for-4 on the night, drove in Michael Hubbard, pinch-running for Kyle Henson who had walked.

Taylor Hashman, who had also walked, scored from third on a play with Mort in a run-down from first to second. That gave the Rebels a two-run lead, which held up until the top of the ninth.

Bittle still got the win to move to 1-1 on the season. The last of three pitchers used by the Govs, Dylan Ray, was saddled with the setback, falling to 1-1 on the year. His team is now 5-7.

Rebel starter Nathan Baker went 4.2 innings, allowing four runs, three earned, on six hits with four strikeouts and three walks.

Rory McKean relieved Baker and went 2.1 innings, with an unearned run, two hits, and three strikeouts. Jake Morgan then went an inning with a hit and a strikeout. Bittle's line read an inning with two runs on three hits with two strikeouts.

Phillips said he'd never won a game like that before.

"My first walk-off home run," he said, clutching the t-shirt that goes to the player of the game as awarded by the UM coaches. "A great feeling."

And not just for himself, but for the whole Rebel team on this night.

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