Locked In

For two days, South Carolina has been locked in. Without a win on Sunday, Ole Miss will be locked out, at least this weekend.

The Gamecocks rolled 8-1 Saturday to take the series. The Rebels can salvage one Sunday in a game that has been rescheduled for 12 noon because of weather.

"It was a day more about South Carolina and how they played," said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. "They played terrific. I'm disappointed in our efforts offensively in the sense that we gave too many at-bats away especially when the game was still intact."

When that exactly was is debatable since USC was as timely as a team could be on this day. In the second inning and again in the fifth, the Gamecocks got a two-out walk followed by a home run. Ironically those were the only two walks allowed by Rebel starter Phillip Irwin.

The Rebel junior went six and two-thirds, allowing six runs, five earned, on nine hits with three strikeouts and two walks. Nathan Baker came in with the Rebels down 6-1 and a man on second. He got a strikeout of Jackie Bradley to end the seventh.

Baker went an inning and two-thirds with two runs allowed on four hits, three strikeouts and a walk. Aaron Barrett came in for two-thirds of an inning with a strikeout.

What isn't debatable is that USC freshman Nolan Belcher handcuffed the Rebels like a lot of off-speed, slow-throwing lefties have done through the years. Ole Miss got nine hits and Belcher walked three. But he also had eight strikeouts and dominated the Rebel batters, allowing only one run and often making it look easy.

"That really hasn't happened to us," Bianco said. "Even two Sundays ago at LSU (in a 2-1 Tiger victory), I thought it was more about Austin Ross than us just getting one run and not hitting. Today I just didn't think our at-bats were very good. It seemed like we couldn't lay off the changeup and couldn't catch up to the fast ball. Overall we couldn't answer."

Belcher (2-1) wasn't unhittable, according to Jeremy Travis, but the Rebels made him look that way.

"To be honest with you, he didn't do anything that was like overpowering," Travis said after his team got outhit 13-9. "He was just doing a good job of hitting his spots and letting his defense work for him. To be honest with you, I didn't think he had anything too impressive. We can't go out there like that as an offense and expect to win."

Irwin (5-2) said the Gamecocks took advantage when they had the chance.

"It was definitely frustrating out there," Irwin said. "I just didn't make the pitches when I really needed to. They just jumped on me when they saw the opportunities."

Scott Bittle (Senior, RHP, 2-2, 2.03 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Rebels. Junior RHP Blake Cooper (4-2, 4.42 ERA) is set to go for the Gamecocks. Last season Cooper pitched a complete game for USC in a 4-1 win over Ole Miss.

Bianco said the Gamecocks (23-11 overall, 7-7 SEC) were just "on" and that his team couldn't answer on this day.

"For the most part, they just hit good pitches," he said of the USC batters. "The truth of the matter is, they've been pretty locked in offensively two games in a row."

The Rebels (24-10, 8-6) look to prevent being totally locked out of this weekend on Sunday.


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