Close contest goes to the Rebels, 5-4

The Ole Miss Rebels (24-14, 8-7 SEC) finally had their day on Sunday, winning a close contest on the strength of a seventh inning home run from left fielder David Phillips. USC (28-8, 11-4 SEC) still won the series and with a Florida loss, maintained a one game lead in the SEC East standings.

Every dog, or Rebel, has his day, and Ole Miss was finally able to win a Sunday game today, a spot that has plagued them over the course of the 2010 season. In addition to losing all four Sunday SEC contests this year, it was the first win on Sunday since the Rebels beat Oakland 9-3 on February 28th.

Tensions were high throughout the day, and the Gamecocks finally fell on a David Phillips home run as he went deep off USC reliever John Taylor.

Both starting pitchers came out of the gate strong on this day, with neither team scoring until Scott Wingo pushed across the first run of the afternoon with a solo home run in the bottom of the third. It was his eighth big fly of the year, and gave Carolina an early 1-0 lead.

Ole Miss starter David Goforth came out of the gate resembling Ole Miss star Drew Pomeranz, striking out 5 in the first two innings, including striking out the side in the 2nd. The former closer who has been pushed to the Sunday starter spot because of the Rebels struggles on Sunday, finished with 4.1 innings pitched, and would go on to give up four earned runs on five hits. He struck out eight on the day.

But Carolina bounced back and with Jay Brown hurling another gem on the mound, was able to take the lead on a Scott Wingo solo home run.

Jay Brown had been shutting down the Rebels in much the same manner as he did Vanderbilt last Sunday, but in the top of the 5th his luck shifted abruptly, putting an end to his game.

After a bunt moved runners over to third with just one out, leadoff man Tim Ferguson cut the Carolina lead in half with a single. After an RBI groundout tied the game, Matt Smith hit a huge home run to left to give Ole Miss the lead at 4-2. That ended the day for Brown, who couldn't maintain his shut out form from last week.

"Jay was great last weekend, and he was not as good today," said Tanner. "But he battled for us. I'm sure he'd like to have that pitch back, as I would, but that's part of the game. That's baseball."

Carolina answered the big Ole Miss inning with runs of their own in the 5th, tying the game at 4-4 on a Jeffery Jones double that scored Scott Wingo and Jackie Bradley Jr.

Ole Miss was finally able to break the tie in the seventh inning, as David Phillips went deep for the Rebels to reclaim the lead. Both Phillips and Matt Smith entered the game with six home runs on the season, and both went deep for the seventh time.

In addition to the excitement from the four home runs, this was a game that featured high tensions from the beginning, with pitching coach Mark Calvi being thrown out in third, and the umpiring crew repeatedly drawing the ire of the Carolina fans.

In the bottom of the seventh, this contest began to get really chippy, after Whit Merrifield was injured sliding into third base. Tanner felt Zach Miller may have been blocking the bag, and exchanged words with both Miller and the Ole Miss coaching staff before umpires had to speak with both teams.

In the top of the eighth, Matt Smith drew boos and a warning from the umpire after he motioned to the crowd and pointed to the scoreboard after grounding out.

After all was said and done, the Gamecocks went to the ninth needing a run as Ole Miss brought Brett Huber in to close it out and salvage one game of the series. Huber retired Merrifield and Bradley Jr. to start the inning, before surrendering a single to Christian Walker that kept hope alive for Gamecock fans. However, Nick Ebert went down swinging on a big 2-2 pitch from Huber to end the game and send the Rebels out of the dugout in celebration of the victory.

It was Huber's fourth save of the season.

Scott Wingo claimed the USC lead for home runs with his eighth of the season today. Adam Matthews also homered for the Gamecocks, his third this year.

John Taylor took the loss in relief of Brown, throwing two innings, giving up just one hit and one earned run. However, that hit was the decisive homer that sent Carolina to just its third home loss of the year.

Matt Tracy picked up the win, throwing 3.2 innings in relief of Goforth, giving up just one hit. Tracy and Huber surrendered just two hits over the final four innings to keep the Gamecocks off the scoreboard.

"Really for me the difference in the game ended up being the job Tracy did for them out of the bullpen," said Tanner. "He was stellar. He did a great job. We stranded some guys, but we had some bats in there that were okay."

Next up for USC will be a home contest against USC Upstate on Tuesday night, before they travel to Athens to face the Georgia Bulldogs next weekend.

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