End Of Curse

Ole Miss hadn't won a Sunday game since February. Until today. The Rebels got a leadoff home run from David Phillips in the top of the seventh inning to take a one-run lead and move on to a 5-4 win.

"It's great to win on Sunday," said middle reliever Matt Tracy, in relief of starter David Goforth. "It's tough to lose a series to a good team in a tough place to play. But man, it does feel good to win on Sunday again."

But had Phillips, the team's leader in home runs this season with seven, not sent one out of the park off USC reliever John Taylor, the Rebs might not have gotten a shot to finally celebrate a Sunday win.

"It was a first-pitch curve ball, and they had been doing that all weekend to me. So I decided I was just going to wait on it," Phillips said. "I saw it, swung the bat, and drove it over the right field fence."

All sounded pretty simple, and one swing of the bat can be that way at times. But finally winning again on Sunday for the first time since the second series of the year against Oakland has been a tough thing to shake.

Matt Tracy

"You knew that eventually it would have to come to an end, the curse, and you knew eventually we would win a (Sunday) game," said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco after his team improved to 24-13 overall and 8-7 in Southeastern Conference play. "I knew in my heart it wasn't going to be easy. I'm proud of them. It was a very emotional game. We got some key hits and made some pitches, and we got through it."

South Carolina, which won the first two games this weekend, led 2-0 when Ole Miss put up four runs in the fifth inning.

Starter Jay Brown walked the first two Rebels, and Ole Miss hitters made him pay. Kevin Mort sac bunted Taylor Hightower and Phillips to second and third. Tim Ferguson singled to score Hightower as Ferguson moved on to second on a USC error.

A ground out by Miles Hamblin scored Phillips. Up popped Matt Smith who sent a ball out of the park to score two runs and give his team a 4-2 lead.

The UM advantage was short-lived as a two-RBI double from Gamecock Jeffrey Jones tied the game 4-4 in the bottom of the fifth.

Matt Smith

Things stayed that way until Phillips' blast in the seventh.

David Goforth started for the Rebels and went 4.1 innings with four runs on five hits, eight strikeouts and three walks. Then Tracy came in.

"I was able to make a lot of pitches," said Tracy, who went three and two-thirds innings in middle relief." The defense made some great plays behind me. I was able to locate my fast ball. That was the biggest thing. My offspeed wasn't great today. But if you can locate your fast ball, you can have success."

Tracy, who walked one and struck out two with one hit and no runs, said he was pitching better today.

"I threw a little harder than my last time out," he said. "I don't see the radar gun, so hopefully it will continue. But just locate it, and it doesn't matter how hard you throw it. If you can put it in a good spot, good things will happen."

Tracy said getting a win today was definitely big for the team in a lot of ways.

"It was an emotional game," he said. "It was a really tough environment to play. They've got a great atmosphere here. But that's what the SEC is all about. Whenever you go on the road, it's going to be emotional. It's going to be a dog fight. And it's good to come out on top."

USC fell to 28-8 and 11-4.

Brett Huber pitched the final inning for Ole Miss, allowing a two-out single but no damage to end it. It was his fourth save of the campaign.

Brett Huber

The Gamecocks had seven hits on the day. Both teams committed an error.

With the win, Tracy is now 2-2, and Taylor has the same record with the loss.

The Rebels' offense hadn't been timely lately through a four-game losing streak. Today five runs on five hits is being efficient.

"For the past few weeks we haven't really gotten that timely hit," Phillips said. "Everybody today was like we just need to relax and play. You've got to play baseball like you did when you were a kid. Just play relaxed and easy. It just seems to come easier to you when you don't try as hard up there, I guess."

Whatever approach works. And now the Rebels are home for six games in a row, starting with Southern Mississippi Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. Then LSU comes to town for three league games over the weekend. Gametimes are 7 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. Double Decker Festival Saturday, and 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

"It's going to be good to get back in Swayze," Tracy said. "It feels like we haven't been there for a conference game in forever. So it will be nice to be at home in front of the home crowd and get some wins."

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