Ole Miss changed Sunday starters but got the same results.
Phillip Irwin started in place of Scott Bittle and the Rebels were able to avoid a three-game sweep, beating Mississippi State 8-1 Sunday after falling 6-5 and 11-8 to their arch-rival the first two days of the series.
Irwin was back in the weekend rotation after it appeared he wasn't going to be. Usual Sunday starter Bittle was out of the lineup with an arm injury. White improving daily, Bittle did not pitch this weekend. Irwin, normally pitching on Saturdays, got the call Sunday to try to save the weekend.
"It feels great to get back in there and have some success," the junior right-hander said after going 6.1 innings with a career-high 10 strikeouts, allowing no runs on four hits with two walks. "I did struggle in the last few outings. I located well today. I was able to dump my curve ball in for strikes and get ahead of hitters, and it really helped out a lot."
When he left the game in the seventh inning, Ole Miss led 3-0. Jake Morgan came in the rest of the way and gave up a run on three hits with three strikeouts and no walks.
Pitching had been but one part of the Rebels' downfall in the first two games over the weekend. But it was a significant part. On Sunday, that was not the case.
"The story of the day obviously was Irwin," Ole Miss Coach Mike Bianco said. "He was tremendous. He looked like he did early in the season. He was very dominant, ahead in the count, very aggressive with four pitches. We needed that."
Evan Button put the game's first run on the scoreboard with a solo shot over the right field wall to lead off the bottom of the fifth inning.
The Rebels made more noise in the sixth when they chased State starter Devin Jones, scored a couple of runs, and then chased MSU's first reliever, Paxton Pace.
It was the seventh that broke it wide open for the Rebels as Ole Miss scored four runs, the first one a one-out, two-run homer by Matt Smith that bounced off the top of the right field wall to put Ole Miss up 5-0.
State then went with Lee Swindle to replace Paxton, and the going got no better. After a second out, Zach Miller was hit by a Swindle pitch, stole second, then Michael Hubbard doubled to score Miller. A wild pitch by Swindle got Hubbard home, and the Rebels were up by a touchdown and an extra point.
The Rebs (37-15 overall, 17-10 SEC), who got 11 hits on the day to MSU's seven, added a run in the eighth and State got its lone run in the ninth.
Irwin (6-3) got the win, while Jones (0-3) got the loss. Morgan's save was his seventh of the season.
The Rebels' next action is Thursday night at Arkansas (31-17, 14-12), the start of the three game series that winds up Saturday afternoon.
LSU is in first place in the overall SEC standings at 18-9, while Alabama is second at 17-9 with a rainout on their ledger.
Ole Miss and Florida are tied for third at 17-10, while Georgia is fifth at 15-12 and Arkansas is sixth at 14-12.
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