Matt Snyder, recovering from a dislocated shoulder earlier this season, dislocated it again when he reached first safely but collided with USM first baseman Mark Ellis and the bag itself. Snyder hit the ground and was checked on by trainer and coach. But there was no definite outlook as to his current status.
"It's not good. It came out again, and they put it back in," Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said of Snyder's shoulder. "That's not a good thing. When it comes out two times that quickly, that's not a good thing."
The first episode for Snyder happened on Friday, March 5 in the opener of the Tulane series when he dove into the first base bag to try to tag out a Green Wave runner and dislocated it then.
Ole Miss (16-5) jumped on Southern Miss starter Jeff Stanley for two runs in the first. But the Rebels didn't get to him like the Golden Eagles (13-6) did UM starter Matt Crouse as USM got four runs in the bottom of the first.
For the Rebels' in the top half of the first, Miller drove in Alex Yarbrough and Snyder with a double for the 2-0 edge. The duo had reached on walks.
Southern Miss answered in the bottom of the first, as Crouse struggled mightily. Kameron Brunty reached third on a double and an error. Crouse then hit Taylor Walker to put two men on before a wild pitch scored Brunty and moved Walker to second. A balk moved Walker to third. Crouse walked B.A. Vollmuth to put men on the corners with no outs. Another wild pitch put Eagles on first and second before Joey Archer walked to load the bases with no outs.
A groundout by Adam Doleac got a second run home as Walker scored to tie the game at 2-2. Mark Ellis popped out to second for the second out, but Anthony Doss' two-RBI single up the middle to gave the Golden Eagles a 4-2 lead.
The Rebels tied it 4-4 in the top of the second in what appeared to be headed to a scoring fest. Miles Hamblin's two-run homer knotted things, and the Rebels actually had the bases loaded after that. But USM changed pitchers, and Dillon Day got three straight Rebs to strikeout to prevent any further damage.
Ole Miss led 8-4 after the top of the fourth. Miller had a two-run single, and Taylor Hightower an RBI double for the highlights of the frame.
The lead moved to 11-4 in the top of the seventh, but that was also the inning in which Snyder was injured. USM added two runs in the bottom of the seventh but got no more the rest of the way.
Obviously Crouse was able to settle down quite a bit after his difficult start. He was able to go four innings allowing three earned runs on eight hits with a strikeout and two walks.
Eric Callender relieved Crouse and continued to pitch well, giving up two runs on four hits with six strikeouts.
"From the beginning he's been lights out," Bianco said of the juco transfer from Meridian Community College. "He really gave us a big boost tonight."
"The big thing for me is I've learned to throw a slider, and that's helped me bigtime," Callender, who got his first win, said. "Pitch to contact and let the defense play for you. That's what I've been trying to do."
Miles Hamblin pitched the final inning with a hit and a walk but no runs scored.
The head coach said Miller was a key to the victory.
"Zach was sensational tonight," Bianco said of his fifth-year senior third baseman. "That's why he's in the five hole. He's an RBI guy. He gets a lot of two-out hits, a lot of great at-bats with runners in scoring position. Tonight we saw him really unleashed."
Miller attributed UM assistant coach Matt Mossberg with a tip before the game.
"Coach Mossberg said something about me moving my head and shoulders farther back away from the pitcher, showing more of my number and my back to the pitcher," he said. "I saw the ball a lot better and bigger today. I was just concentrating on turning my head all the way around and looking at the pitcher with both eyes. It's crazy how you can get out of synch a little bit. I had been hitting the ball hard, they just hadn't been falling. That's just baseball and anything can happen. I just keep trying to get better every day."
Miller and his teammates get another opportunity to get better and to win another game as they host Saint Louis University Wednesday night at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field. Another fifth-year senior, right-hander Rory McKean, will get the start for the Rebels at 6:30 p.m.
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