"It's great to have Scott Bittle on any day," said the Ole Miss head coach following his team's 6-1 win over South Carolina in Oxford. "The team plays with a lot of confidence when he's out there. But I think this team plays with a lot of confidence with any pitcher out there. But your point is well taken. The other thing is that he's got such a reputation now, that the other team's hitters know it's going to be a tough day at the ballpark for them."
Bittle went six innings and allowed just one run on four hits with seven strikeouts and two walks. Just like last Sunday in an 8-0 win against Kentucky in Oxford, Bittle didn't give up a hit until 4.2 innings were in the books.
Bittle said he didn't have his best stuff on this day.
"Mainly it was again about getting ahead of hitters," said Bittle, now 3-2 on the season. "Just try to put them away at the right spots. They were going to get some hits. It was just a matter of battling it out."
While Bittle was taking care of USC hitters, the Rebel bats were beginning to warm up. After the Gamecocks took a 1-0 lead in the top of the sixth inning on a solo home run by DeAngelo Mack, the Rebels answered with two runs in the bottom of the sixth to take a 2-1 lead.
In the top of the seventh when leadoff batter Andrew Crisp got the wierdest of doubles, a ball that bounced off the top of the wall and back into play, Bianco called on Jake Morgan to replace Bittle.
Morgan was again effective, and he got three straight outs to keep his team out in front. The RS sophomore righty went the rest of the way, not allowing a runner to reach.
The Rebel bats came alive and got three runs on four hits in the bottom of the seventh to give Ole Miss a 5-1 advantage. Morgan said that helped everything.
"During the whole season we've been able to fight toward the end of the game," Morgan said after his fourth save of the campaign. "No matter what we do, we always score runs right at the end. Whether we're down or up, we seem to hit at the end."
The Rebs, 25-10 overall and 9-6 in SEC play, added the last run of the game in the eighth when Evan Button reached on a first-pitch single to lead things off. After USC (23-12, 7-8) changed pitchers for the second time in the contest, Kevin Mort reached on a base hit, which moved Button to third. Basham got Button home, even though he hit into a double play. No matter on this day, since six runs were more than enough.
"Finally in the sixth inning, we were able to put some at-bats together. Some guys off the bench had some big hits for us, (Taylor) Hashman and (Michael) Hubbard," Bianco said. "That's nice to see. We've been doing that all year. When your back's kinda against the wall, like ours were today, it's nice to be able to do that."
The Rebels outhit USC 12-4 on the day with Matt Smith leading the way, going 3-for-4 and also scoring two runs.
"I thought we played much better today," Bianco said. "Certainly the game was about pitching, and Scott was tremendous. And Jake did a great job at the end."
And at the end of this particular weekend, the Rebels had gotten back on track.
Ole Miss plays Mississippi State in Pearl at Trustmark Park, the home of the Atlanta Braves' AA affiliate, Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.
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