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Rebels Advance to Play Arkansas

Photo by Peyton Spear / HottyToddy.com
Photo by Peyton Spear / HottyToddy.com

HOOVER, Ala. – It went according to plan, at least as far as seeding is concerned. No. 6 Ole Miss got past No. 11 Kentucky 4-1 in the first game of the SEC Tournament. The Rebels now get to play at least two more games.

Tuesday was single elimination day for the 12-team field as the lower-seeded eight teams in the field played. The Wildcats were the first team done, joining Tennessee and Georgia who didn’t even make it.

Ole Miss now faces Arkansas at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. The Rebels won two of three games in the SEC opening weekend at Fayetteville, Ark.

The Razorbacks will start Barrett Astin, a reliever in the Sunday 13-inning game won 6-4 by Ole Miss on the same day Ole Miss men’s basketball won the SEC Tournament in Nashville, Tenn. That’s how long it’s been since the Rebels and Hogs met.

Astin, a junior right-hander, has logged the second most innings of any Razorback pitcher at 75.2 this season and has gone back and forth between starter and reliever. He is 4-4 and has the second best ERA on the staff at 2.02.

“Mike Mayers was terrific,” Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said, mentioning the way he and his coaching staff had to determine the best situations coming in as far as pitchers who were ready on a Tuesday after a series that ended Saturday. “I don’t know if we have another guy that could do what Mike just did. It probably worked out better than we could have imagined.”

Mayers finished the day with one run, but it was unearned due to a Rebel error, on one hit with four strikeouts and a walk.

“I felt fine,” Mayers said. “I think people make a big deal on short rest. You grew up and nobody ever cared about rest. The big leagues do it for 200-plus innings. It’s the same routine I’ve been on the last two weeks. My fast ball command was there and I pride myself on that and pitch off that. When my fast ball command’s there (it’s good), and Stu (Turner) does the rest behind the plate.”

“He’s a good pitcher. He mixes it up pretty well,” said UK center fielder Austin Cousino. “We knew what he had coming in. This is the third time (in two years) we’ve faced him. He’s tough.”

With one out in the first inning, Austin Anderson singled and Stuart Turner doubled to put runners on second and third. Andrew Mistone then flew out to right to get Anderson home and Turner to third.

Christian Helsel led off the third with a double to left. Tanner Mathis then sac bunted Helsel to third. An Austin Anderson first-pitch double past the first base bag scored Helsel.

Zac Zellers with a one-out double for Kentucky in the fourth. A two-out walk for Cousino put runners at the corners. A throwing error while Cousino was trying to steal second during J.T. Riddle’s at-bat scored Zellers.

Andrew Mistone’s one-out double down the third base line in the bottom of the sixth accounted for another run scored for the Rebels as a bloop single over the first baseman’s head by Auston Bousfield got him home.

A pinch-hit single by Austin Knight put Rebels on first and second with two outs in the sixth, but Kentucky left-handed starter Jerad Grundy’s day was done. Right-hander Chandler Shepherd came in to face Will Allen. The Rebel junior singled to score Jamison, who had come in to run for Knight and remained in the game to play in right field as Preston Overbey moved to first for Orvis. It was 4-1 Ole Miss.

Grundy’s final line read 5.2 innings pitched with four earned runs, no walks and one strikeout with 70 pitches.

After two Wildcats were aboard in the top of the seventh, Jeremy Massie entered to relieve Mayers. Following a base hit to load the bases, there was a pop up to Christian Helsel at second base and a groundout to end the UK threat.

Massie pitched a solid eighth and Tanner Bailey pitched the ninth with one hit and a strikeout to, facing four batters.

“Jeremy came in in a tough position,” Bianco said after he went 1.2 innings with no runs on one hit with a walk but no strikeouts. “They get a swinging bunt and he’s super composed. Gets a popup and a ground ball to get out of it.”

“I was a little nervous coming in with runners on first and second,” Massie said. “I just made some good pitches and tried to get outs.”

Kentucky head coach Gary Henderson tipped his cap to the Ole Miss Rebels.

“Give credit to Mike Mayers and Coach Bianco and his staff today,” he said. “I thought they pitched it very well.”

Ole Miss had 11 hits in the game, four of them for extra bases.

“We got some timely hits,” Bianco said. “It was good to see the guys continue to get some timely hits and continue to swing coming off the last two days at LSU where we swung pretty well.” — Jeff Roberson, OMSpirit.com

Adam Brown
Adam Brown
Sports Editor

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