Grilled Skyhawk

Ole Miss extended its win streak to seven games with a 15-6 victory against Tennessee-Martin Tuesday night in Oxford.

Eric Callender, making his 16th appearance of the season but first start, got the win for the Rebels, going five innings and allowing only three earned runs on four hits with three strikeouts and three walks.

"I felt good out there," said Callender, a junior right-hander. "It's different starting than coming out of the bullpen. It's more of a relaxed intensity than trying to get strikeouts and all that, so it was good."

Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said Callender did well in his first start.

"Callender hadn't been out there in a while," he said. "He gave up a couple in the first, but he hangs in there and gets the win."

Callender had some arm soreness in recent weeks but said he is fine now.

"It was just a little extenders on top of my forearm and my wrist area, but it was nothing major," he said. "It's completely gone now. I didn't feel it at all. I feel normal."

"He's fine. His velocity was good tonight and what it normally is," Bianco said of Callender, who with the win moved to 3-1 this season. "But you can kinda see the rust, especially with the fastball. About the second inning he began to really find his slider. He had his changeup the whole game. The fastball command isn't probably what he liked, especially compared to what it was maybe three weeks ago when he was really sharp. One of the reasons we started him tonight was for him not to have the pressure at the end of the game, and let him be able to relax and work. He did a good job."

Also pitching were Tanner Mathis and David Phillips – Mathis with his second appearance of the season and Phillips with his first mound time. Mathis, a freshman, went three innings, with one earned run on three hits with three strikeouts. Phillips, a senior, went the final inning, giving up one unearned run on one hit with a walk.

"They were terrific," Bianco said. "Tanner did what he did tonight to our team the whole fall (practice). He used that left-handed magic and thumbed it in there and threw strikes. And I don't know if Phillips has ever thrown like that in an intrasquad game. Little more velocity, and a little sharper breaking ball. We don't have a lot of pitchers, and so if they can do that, it certainly helps out a lot."

The Rebel offense continues to shine. Ole Miss had 18 hits, and every starter got at least one. But none were as effective as Matt Smith, who was 4-for-4 with three RBI and four runs scored. Smith, the team's leading hitter currently with a .378 average, also hit his tenth homer of the season and leads in that department as well.

"I'm just really focused," said the fourth-year junior. "That's about as much as I can say about it. I just don't feel like I can get out up there. As a hitter, you get in what you call a zone. I just feel like I can hit anything right now."

The entire team has been hitting the baseball and scoring runs lately. In the last six games, Ole Miss has scored 60 runs.

"We just continue to swing, and swing with a lot of confidence," Bianco said. "A lot of good at-bats. When you're swinging like that, a lot of good things happen to you."

After UT-Martin (19-21 on the year) scored two runs in the top of the first, Ole Miss answered in the bottom of the frame with a two-run homer by Smith that also scored Tim Ferguson, who led off with a double.

The Rebels added two more runs in the second, taking the lead for good when Alex Yarbrough scored on a sac fly from Miles Hamblin after opening the inning with a single and advancing to second on a single from Taylor Hashman. Hashman then scored on a passed ball to give Ole Miss a 4-2 lead.

The Skyhawks cut the lead to one with a run in the third, but Ole Miss again answered with a three-run third to extend its lead to 7-3.

The visitors pushed a run across in the fifth to pull to within three runs at 7-4. Ole Miss then put together another big inning, scoring six runs in the bottom of the fifth in an inning that had 11 Rebs go to the plate.

Leading 13-4, Ole Miss would go on to plate single runs in the sixth and the seventh, while the Skyhawks got two more before this one was done.

The Rebels (30-13, 11-7 SEC) head to Mississippi State (20-20, 5-13) for three games this weekend.


OM Spirit Top Stories