Tigers Tamed

Nathan Baker got the win in relief and also the t-shirt as the player of the game. And it came against his hometown team, Memphis, as Ole Miss won 7-4 Wednesday night.

Baker, of suburban Cordova, Tenn., said pitching against the Tigers is special.

"I've grown up with a lot of them. I've played against several of them since I was 10 years old. Out of their lineup today, I think I knew six or seven of them. So yeah, it does mean something to me."

Baker relieved starter Chris Corrigan to start the fourth inning with the Rebels leading 5-4. The junior left-hander held the Tigers where they were, pitching three innings, with three hits while striking out four and walking two. When he left the contest, Ole Miss was up 6-4.

"The main key for me tonight was just to try to fill up the zone, and that's all I tried to do," he said. "I just tried to work my fast ball, and if I got ahead to work in my slider and curve ball."

Baker said his last time out he wasn't as effective, even though the Rebs won the game 8-7 last Tuesday night against Austin Peay. His line read 4.2 innings pitched with three earned runs on six hits with four strikeouts and three walks.

"The last outing against Austin Peay I was getting behind in a lot of counts, a lot of 3-1s and 3-2s. And I walked a couple of guys," Baker said. "Tonight I was just trying to pound the zone and throw a lot of fastballs for strikes. That was the difference."

Corrigan had given up three runs in the top of the first and was able to make it through three innings. He gave up four runs on five hits with four strikeouts and two walks.

Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said Baker did well in relief of Corrigan.

"I think he controlled the game where it might have seemed a little out of control the first few innings," Bianco said. "Baker was just throwing the ball into the strike zone and getting out of some jams. One of the biggest, probably the biggest thing, was when it was first and second (5-4 at the time), no outs and they bunt it, and Nathan bounces off the mound, gets the lead guy and we get out of the inning."

After Baker, David Goforth came in and pitched two quality innings with two strikeouts and no hits or walks. Scott Bittle went the final inning to get his third save of the season.

The scoring fest settled down dramatically after the first one-third of the game. Ole Miss, now 13-4, added a couple of runs to pad its lead, with a solo homer from Jeremy Travis in the fifth and an RBI single in the eighth by Tim Ferguson.

"He (Tiger reliever Heith Hatfield) threw a slider," said Travis, 2-for-3 in the contest. "He gave me a good pitch to hit and I tried to put a good swing on it, and it was able to get out of there."

Travis, becoming one of the Rebels' big sticks, had also launched a key home run against Vanderbilt in game one of last weekend's series. His three-run blast gave Ole Miss a 4-2 lead on its way to a 9-3 win last Friday night.

The senior outfielder was in the cleanup spot against Memphis as Logan Power moved from the four-hole to the three, and Matt Smith was moved from three to six.

"It was a move to really take a little pressure off Matt," Bianco said. "Matt got off to a pretty good start this season and then the last five games has really struggled. You could really see it.

"He's putting a lot of pressure on himself the last couple games and we figured we'd take him out of the middle of the lineup, move Logan up and give (Taylor) Hashman and Travis, guys that have been swinging it well, especially with guys in scoring position, a chance to get some RBI. And just let (Matt) relax and put him in the six-hole. I thought Travis did well. I thought Power had a good night. A lot of guys had good nights."

Indeed they did. Smith and Power, in addition to Travis, had two hits apiece, as did Ferguson.

Leadoff batter Jordan Henry was 3-for-4 with a double, an RBI, a walk, two stolen bases, and three runs scored.

The Rebels outhit the Tigers 13-8.

Memphis starter Ryan Holland (0-1) was charged with the loss.

Ole Miss hosts Alabama for three games this weekend – Friday at 6:30 p.m., Saturday at 1:30 p.m., and Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

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