Lipscomb jumped on the Rebels early Sunday and appeared to be cruising, but a 5-run seventh inning put the Rebs on top 9-8, Tanner Bailey closed the game out in relief and Ole Miss moved to 16-1 on the year as SEC play quickly approaches.
By: Chuck Rounsaville, OMSpirit.com
For a while, 6 1/2 innings to be exact, it did not look like Sunday, facing visiting Lipscomb, was going to be Ole Miss’ day.
Behind four wind-aided solo home runs, the Bisons led the Rebels 8-4 and appeared to be headed toward avoiding a sweep at the hands of the nation’s number 7 team.
Not so fast, as ESPN’s Lee Corso is inclined to say. . . .
The Rebels came roaring back with a five-run seventh inning, gained a 9-8 advantage and watched reliever Tanner Bailey work his magic with 2 2/3 scoreless innings to close things out and give the Rebs their fourth weekend sweep of the still-young season..
“We just stuck with the process,” said one of the Rebs’ heroes at the plate, 3B Andrew Mistone, who had three singles and two RBI in the contest. “We tried to stay patient despite worrying about the rain on the way. We stayed with the process and it paid off in the long run.”
The process, as Mistone explains it, is simply sticking with what they do best.
“We got base hits, we didn’t get ahead of ourselves, we put pressure on their defense and let the game come to us,” he noted. “It’s difficult when you know the game could be called at any time with wet weather approaching, but we did it.”
Trailing 8-4, the Rebs went to work in the bottom of the seventh. LF Tanner Mathis got on with one out on an infield single and CF Auston Bousfield walked. Bison starter Will Blalock, who had pitched admirably to that point but seemed to be running out of gas, was lifted and the flood gates opened for the Rebs.
SS Austin Anderson, who also had three hits on the day, singled to load the bases for hot-hitting C Stuart Turner, who delivered with a 2-run rip to left to cut the deficit to 8-6.
The Rebs were not finished yet. Mistone stroked an RBI single and then DH Holt Perdzock and 1B Will Allen followed suit to give the Rebs the 9-8 advantage.
“The offense was the story,” said Coach Mike Bianco. “They hung in there and finally we were able to get a big inning to take the lead. We had to play for nine innings because Lipscomb kept answering us every time we would get something going.
“It was like a heavyweight boxing match where we threw more punches at the end. Sometimes you are just going to give up runs and it was good to see our offense answer and come through.”
From there, it was all Bailey, who came on in relief of Will Denny with one out in the 7th and pitched nearly flawlessly, allowing no hits, no runs, fanning three and only giving up 1 walk. Bailey was credited with the win and is now 1-0 on the year.
“I was mixing it up, throwing the slider and the fastball away and I got a couple of fastballs in I was able to locate,” said Bailey. “I was able to keep them off balance.
While the Rebels got the win and moved to 16-1 on the year, it was not all fun and games for most of the contest.
The Bisons came out swinging. . . and swinging. . . and swinging some more.
“It was one of those games. It takes all kinds. I was just proud we hung in there and came away with the win,” said Coach Mike Bianco, who the day before had become the winningest baseball coach in Ole Miss history. “Lipscomb played very well, especially early. It was very difficult to get them out. Every time we missed a pitch, they were right on it.”
Lipscomb touched Sam Smith for four runs in the first and two more in the second on two solo homers. Then another solo shot in the fifth.
The Bisons mustered one run off reliever Will Denny on yet another solo home run, but then Bailey closed the door.
“I credit Sam for hanging in there after a really rough start. Will was terrific and Bailey just locked it up,” Bianco stated. “I’m not sure all four of those homers would have left the park on a day when the wind was not blowing out over 20 miles per hour, but I still credit Lipscomb – they hit the ball pretty well all weekend.”
The Rebels ended with 17 hits, with Mistone, Anderson and Mathis getting three apiece. Turner added a pair of hits and three RBI. Mathis, Bousfield and Anderson each scored a pair of runs. 2B Preston Overbey had the Rebs only homer, a solo shot in the fourth inning.
Anderson had all three Rebel errors on the day, but all three were on, Bianco said, “tough balls.”
Now, it gets real. Or maybe more real.
The Rebs open SEC play at Arkansas next weekend and have two mid-week games at UL-Monroe before they head to Fayetteville.
How does Bianco feel about his team as conference play quickly approaches?
“To this point, it is hard to imagine we could have played much better,” he began. “We know some adversity will soon come and we’ll see how we handle it. We have had some with three excellent pitchers – Chris Ellis, Jacob Waguespack and Hawtin Buchanan – being out for a while, and they will probably not be back this week. Bobby Wahl has also dealt with a blister on his finger. So we have had some adversity and have fought through it, but we anticipate more on the way and we have to fight through it.”
Overall, Bianco feels the Rebels have pitched well as a staff.
“We didn’t at first today, but most of the year we have pitched extremely well and our bullpen has been outstanding,” he continued. “Mike Myers and Wahl were really good this weekend in combo.
“Defensively, we are not the best in the country, but I think we are solid. Offensively, we haven’t gotten going on all cylinders yet when you look at Will Allen, Sikes Orvis and Tanner Mathis, guys who we know will hit, who really haven’t hit their strides yet. We’ve been OK offensively, but there is more there and I believe it will surface.”
Overall, Bianco likes the Rebs’ position thus far.
“It’s a long year and we aren’t a third of the way through yet, but I like where we are as a club and only expect us to get better.”
“I was glad to get the ball in the ninth. We ha