Winning Anyway

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Ole Miss battled nasty conditions, playing its SEC opener on the road, the Vanderbilt Commodores as an opponent, and a four-hour Friday night game. And the Rebels prevailed against all the above in an impressive 9-3 victory.

Ole Miss got all its nine runs from the fourth through the sixth innings in moving to 10-3 on the season.

Rory McKean relieved starter Drew Pomeranz to start the fifth inning and got the win, his second of the year against two losses. Jake Morgan came in for McKean after a walk in the eighth. Kyle Barbeck closed it out in the ninth.

A couple of errors early marred an otherwise solid defensive effort for Ole Miss. But given the conditions, this was as complete a game as one could hope for, all thngs considered.

"A tough night to play baseball," said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. "Raining the whole game and temperatures in the 30s, just miserable to play in. But that's part of it. You've got to do it.

"We were fortunate to get some key hits," he continued. "We walked too many people, and we left some guys in scoring position. But it's hard to be critical on a night like this. We actually got some big hits."

Jeremy Travis' three-run homer in the fourth gave Ole Miss a lead it never relinquished. Logan Power came up with two big doubles in the contest. The senior outfielder was 3-for-4 with four RBI and a run scored.

"It's really tough on a night like this," Power said. "The wind's blowing in and it was cold. But I thought we competed hard, and it was a big win for us."

After Vandy took a 2-0 lead with a run each in the first and second innings, the Rebels struck for four runs in the top of the fourth. Power doubled in Tim Ferguson from first after the Rebel second baseman reached on an infield single.

After Taylor Hashman walked, Travis then launched a rocket over the left field wall, the three-run shot that gave Ole Miss a 4-2 lead.

Vandy cut it to 4-3 and had a chance to get more in the bottom of the fourth. As rainy and cold conditions worsened, Pomeranz walked three Commodores in a row after a throwing error at third on Zach Miller had allowed Alex Hilliard to reach.

After walking in a run, Vandy still had bases loaded. After an extensive break to allow the field crew to work on the wet field, Pomeranz struck out Aaron Westlake to end a major Commodore threat.

"It got pretty slippery out there," the Rebel sophomore left-hander said. "I probably should have told them to come out and put some quick-dry on (the mound) a little earlier. It was wet no matter what, and I was just trying to throw strikes."

Leading 4-3, the Rebels added two runs in the top of the fifth. They surprised the Commodores with back to back bunts. Jordan Henry got one to roll just inside the third base line all the way to the bag. Tim Ferguson sac bunted to get Henry to second. After Henry stole third, Matt Smith reached on a throwing error which allowed Henry to score.

Smith stole second on Power's at-bat which followed. After Vandy starter Mike Minor was pulled, pinch hitter David Phillips drew a walk off VU reliever Taylor Hill. After Travis popped up to short, Smith scored on a wild pitch during a Kevin Mort at-bat for a 6-3 edge.

Three Rebel runs in the sixth made things tougher on the home team. After Brett Basham and Henry reached on singles, Ferguson walked to load the bases. Power came up and sent one to the left corner, a double that cleared the bases and gave UM a 9-3 advantage.

Minor (1-1) got the loss for Vandy. Reliever Hill had a career-high eight strikeouts in the final 4.2 innings.

Ole Miss outhit the Commodores 12-7. Vanderbilt fell to 10-5 on the season.

With Pomeranz on the mound, Vandy got three runs, two earned, with five strikeouts and five walks. McKean, Morgan, and Barbeck allowed a hit apiece but no runs. McKean had two strikeouts and four walks, while Barbeck had two strikeouts.

Junior Phillip Irwin (RHP, 1.72 ERA, 2-0) starts for Ole Miss in Saturday's 3 p.m. game. Vandy is scheduled to start sophomore Caleb Cotham (RHP, 1.29 ERA, 3-0).

"This was a really big win for us," Power said. "We were awesome on the mound. Offensively we started off slow, but in the middle innings we made some adjustments and put some runs up. That won it for us."

And the Rebels are off to a good start in league play – beating all the odds on this night.

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