A Flare for the Dramatic

Starter Drew Pomeranz was sick and couldn't pitch, but Phillip Irwin and Jake Morgan combined to make the Kentucky Wildcats feel pretty sick themselves.

Ole Miss took game one of this three-game series 4-3 as the Rebels found another way to win a close one in which they'd trailed.

Irwin, the projected Saturday starter, stepped in a day early when Pomeranz fell ill to a stomach problem, pitching eight innings of seven hit, three run baseball, along with seven strikeouts and no walks.

He didn't have long to prepare.

"I found out about 5:10, right after BP," said Irwin, with the win now 5-1 on the season. "I wasn't expecting it at all. I knew Drew wasn't feeling too good, but I thought he'd pitch. I definitely had to flip a switch."

When Ole Miss, which trailed by two runs heading into the seventh, got a run in the seventh and two more in the eighth, in came Morgan to do what he's done all season. Three strikeouts – that's 23 of his last 24 outs by way of the K – to end it.

UK wound up using four pitchers, but it was starter Alex Meyer who held the Ole Miss bats in check through 6.1 innings.

"Both guys on the mound were tremendous," said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco, who could have been talking about any combination of the three pitchers. In this case he was referring to the starters.

"Meyer was outstanding, a guy prone to walk, with 25 walks in 28 innings, and he only walks one tonight. Good breaking ball, really dominated. The good news for us is Phillip Irwin. He was pretty sharp tonight."

With the visitors up 3-1, Zach Miller sent one over the right center wall, the first pitch of the seventh, to pull the Rebs to within a run at 3-2 and signal this one was far from over.

In the eighth, Logan Power singled to get things started. After a UK pitching change, Jeremy Travis flew out to center, but Taylor Hashman walked to put Rebs at first and second. Matt Smith reached on a throwing error from the third baseman to the second baseman, allowing Power to get home all the way from second to tie the game 3-3.

The Wildcats changed pitchers again as Miller came up with runners on first and second with one out. After Miller struck out, Evan Button singled the first pitch to right, scoring Hashman and giving Ole Miss a 4-3 lead.

Then came Morgan and the Bat Cats were doomed as the redshirt sophomore got his second save of the season.

"I'm just trying to fill up the strike zone," said Morgan, matter of factly after certainly succeeding in what it is he's trying to do.

Same for Button, who got the game-winning hit for the Rebels in an 8-7 win over JSU Tuesday night and is seeing more playing time these days.

"Feels pretty sweet," said Button, making his first start at second base this season.

Winning always feels that way, and the Rebs now have four in a row. Actually it was Ole Miss' fourth comeback win in a row, joining victories earlier this week against Arkansas State, Jackson State, and Memphis, the latter two being decided in the Rebels' last at-bats.

The third of four UK pitchers, Logan Darnell, got the loss and is 3-1.

Ole Miss outhit Kentucky 8-7, as Jordan Henry paced the Rebs, going 3-for-4 with an RBI.

Ole Miss (20-8 overall, 6-4 SEC) may send sophomore LHP Pomeranz (2-0, 3.55 ERA) to the mound Saturday for the 4 p.m. contest, depending on how he feels. Kentucky plans to start senior LHP Chris Rusin (4-1, 3.21 ERA).

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