Sweep!

The magnificent series continued right through the end of the afternoon on Sunday as Ole Miss completed its sweep of LSU with a 7-6 victory.

Kevin Mort's bases loaded single off LSU reliever Austin Ross to deep left scored Taylor Hightower after the Rebel catcher had reached on a leadoff single to shallow left.

"I figured with nobody out and bases loaded I'd be able to swing away," the Rebel senior shortstop said. "I was just looking for a pitch. He threw me a fastball right down the middle. So I was able to get a good swing on it."

Ross started the ninth for the Tigers with the game tied 6-6. Starter Chris Matulis had pitched 7.2 innings of eight hit, five earned run baseball with two walks and four strikeouts before giving way to Paul Bertuccini.

Bertuccini only faced David Phillips and got the Rebel senior to strike out.

Prior to that, Matulis had given up a solo home run to Alex Yarbrough in the eighth to tie it 6-6. Also in that same inning Matt Snyder had sent a solo shot out of the park to trim the LSU lead to one run at 6-5.

Ross had trouble from the start in the ninth. Following Hightower's single, Miles Hamblin got a base hit to center field, which got Hightower to third.

Tim Ferguson was intentionally walked to load the bases, and LSU pulled all its defenders in, basically having a five-man infield and disregarding anything deep.

Kevin Mort

When Mort sent his ball to deep left, no Tiger even made an effort to get to it, because they couldn't get there. Hightower raced home, and Ole Miss had swept to move to 28-13 overall and 11-7 in the SEC. The Tigers are 32-9 and 11-7.

"Another great game," Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said. "And another great crowd. I thought they were treated to three great baseball games. We played well. We got the timely hit we'd been missing. Offensively I thought we played more like the team we're capable of being. On the mound we were good enough."

Bianco expanded on his comments about the pitching.

"It was a very tough weekend to pitch," he said. "One, that's a very good offensive LSU team. Two, tough conditions with the wind gushing out. Today I thought David (Goforth) was pretty good at times, but not his best. But at the end he hung in there and gave us a shot."

Goforth, the Sunday starter lately, went 3.1 innings allowing five runs on eight hits with three strikeouts and five walks. Trent Rothlin relieved him and went 3.2 innings, giving up just a run on four hits with five strikeouts and two walks. Brett Huber finished things up, going 2.0 innings with a hit, three strikeouts and a walk.

"I thought Trent did a tremendous job," Bianco said. "And of course Huber at the end was very dominant the last couple of innings."

LSU outhit Ole Miss 13-11. But LSU head coach Paul Mainieri said his team simply could not put the Rebs away.

"The kids gave everything they had out there," he said of the Tigers. "We just couldn't pull away enough, and against a team like Ole Miss, that's what you have to do."

Indeed the Rebels battled back most of the weekend, at least the final two games after getting a big lead in game one and holding on. In Sunday's game, LSU led 6-3 in the fifth inning but scored no more runs off Rebel relievers Rothlin and Huber.

"This weekend was all about the relievers," Bianco said. "They just did a great job throughout the weekend. In close games like this against a good offense, you have to have guys come out of the pen and give you zeroes and stop the momentum."

Trent Rothlin

Mainieri said Rothlin was particularly hard for his hitters to handle.

"He just kept throwing slider after slider after slider, and he had a good one," he said. "But we didn't make him throw anything else because we didn't battle as well as we could've."

Mainieri said his team just had a tough time of it offensively the last four frames.

"We've got to finish off innings and get more separation," he said. "When you're on the road in the SEC and the other team starts coming back, it's difficult to win if you don't keep the pressure on and we didn't."

The Rebels did indeed make it all the way back. A Taylor Hashman single to left in the sixth scored Snyder who had also singled. That cut the LSU lead to 6-4.

Then came the solo home runs of Snyder and Yarbrough in the eighth to tie it.

"I finally got one up in the jet stream and it carried out," said Yarbrough of his first round-tripper of the year.

Mainieri said he was surprised to see the switch-hitter's ball leave the park.

"We hadn't seen him hit right-handed until today, but the scouting report we had told us we wanted to keep him hitting right-handed," he said. "We got two strikes on him, too, and then he sticks his bat out and pokes out to right field and it flies out of the ballpark."

That set things up for Mort's heroics in the ninth.

"I was trying to put the ball in the outfield. They had that weird defense with five guys in the infield. So I was just trying to get the ball up in the zone and get a fly ball," Mort said. "Fortunately I got it to 2-0 and I got a pitch I could handle."

Huber (1-0) got the win, while Ross (3-4) got the setback.

Huber said the relievers knew if they did their jobs, others on the team would as well.

"We swung the bats all weekend real well," Huber said. "We knew if we kept us in the game, the offense was going to do its job. Going into the bottom of the ninth, we just knew. We just had that feeling we were going to get the win."

The Rebels host Murray State Tuesday night and Tennessee-Martin Wednesday night.


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