Strong Finish

After giving up two runs in the bottom of the first inning, Ole Miss starter Scott Bittle combined with reliever Jake Morgan to allow only one more Florida run in a 5-3 Rebel win. Ole Miss won two of three games in Gainesville this weekend.

Four walks in the first by Bittle as well as a single allowed UF to take a 2-0 lead after one complete. Eight Gators came to bat in the first. After that, however, Florida struggled to mount anything off the Rebel senior, who pitched through six innings.

Bittle (4-2) allowed three runs on five hits with eight strikeouts and six walks in recording his 13th win as an Ole Miss Rebel.

Morgan came in and pitched the final two innings of the shortened contest. Ole Miss' air travel plans called for this one to end after eight innings. The sophomore got his fifth save of the season with two hits, three strikeouts and a walk.

After two were on base with an out in the Gators' last at-bat, Morgan got the last two Florida hitters to strike out to end it.

Bittle said it was a little rocky for him at the start of the game.

"I was trying to find the strike zone the whole (first) inning, and I was falling behind in the counts," Bittle said. "After that it was just regaining confidence and going out there and filling it up."

Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said the Rebels (28-11 overall and 11-7 in SEC play) hung in there from the start, even when they fell behind early.

"We just grinded it out today, and there are not a lot of people who can do that like Scott Bittle," Bianco said. "He didn't find his rhythm in the first and he struggled. But he was close. After that he really settled in and took over the game. Offensively we got some key hits. (Kyle) Henson was tremendous. (Jordan) Henry. What can you say? Four walks and several stolen bases and had an outstanding day."

After Kyle Henson's two-run homer in the top of the third tied the game, the Rebels continued to build on the lead as a wild pitch in the fifth got Jordan Henry home from third after he had walked and stolen second, and had moved to third on a sac bunt by Henson. A RBI single by Zach Miller in the same inning scored Logan Power from second base after he had been intentionally walked and moved to second on the wild pitch that scored Henry.

Florida (26-14, 10-8) closed the gap to 4-3 in the bottom of the fifth with a Josh Adams RBI single. Ole Miss got the game's final run in the top of the sixth, a Henson single that scored Tim Ferguson who had reached on a base hit and stole second.

After that, Bittle and Morgan took care of the Gators the rest of the way.

"Bittle was leaving it up a little bit early, and then he found the zone as the great ones always do," said Henson, who caught Bittle all six innings in this one.

Henson said he was pleased to homer to help the Rebel cause.

"I had struck out earlier, and he had walked Jordan Henry (before him) on four straight pitches," he said. "I knew he was going to have to throw a fast ball, and I got good barrel on it."

Florida head coach Kevin O'Sullivan said he felt his team was primed for winning the series, especially after the first inning.

"I thought our game plan was good," O'Sullivan said. "We got his (Bittle) pitch count up. Our goal was to get Bittle to 100 pitches through five (innings) and that's exactly what we did. Although we got him to 103 pitches through five innings, Bittle's an All-American for a reason.

"The thing that's disappointing is that we walked six batters and three of them scored," O'Sullivan continued. "We walked the leadoff batter four times. We talked about it, but when the leadoff guy (Henry) has 23 stolen bases coming in to the game, you have to make him hit his way on. Three of the walks scored and we lost by two."

Gator starter Alex Panteliodis (3-5), the first of four pitchers used by the UF coaching staff, got the loss.

Ole Miss outhit the Gators 8-7. The Rebels were 6-for-6 in the stolen base department.


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