The Rebel offense got off to a quick start and junior Chris Ellis held the potent Wildcat offense in check as No. 12 Ole Miss (31-12, 11-8 SEC) defeated No. 17 Kentucky (27-15, 9-10 SEC) by a score of 12-4 to claim the series opener on Friday night.
Five batters turned in multiple-hits for the Rebels, led by a 3-for-5 performance from Will Allen and a 2-for-4 performance from Sikes Orvis that included a home run to get things started for Ole Miss in the second inning.
Ellis (6-0) picked up the win as he held the Wildcats to two runs on five hits with three walks and five strikeouts through 7.0 innings of work. The two runs came on a home run from slugger A.J. Reed in the sixth inning as the right-hander for the Rebels kept the Wildcats in check throughout his time on the mound.
Reed (7-2) suffered the loss for the Wildcats as he allowed seven runs – two of them earned – on eight hits with a walk and three strikeouts in 3.0 innings of work.
“I’m really proud of the team and the way we played tonight,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “We haven’t really been ourselves the last week and we got back to that tonight. (A.J.) Reed is one of the best players in the country; we just had a good night at the plate. We got some good swings and things really just opened up for us after Sikes (Orvis) hit his home run. We really just relaxed at that point.”
Kentucky looked to get things started in the first inning with a leadoff double down the first base line from Austin Cousino that clipped off the glove of Orvis. Ellis then got a strikeout and a ground ball back to the mound that he flipped to third to erase Cousino from the lineup to put two away in the inning. Ellis then got a groundout to third to end the inning with no damage.
Orvis got the Rebels on the board in the top of the second, taking a pitch off the scoreboard in left center to open the frame and put Ole Miss on top 1-0.
Braxton Lee reached on a fielding error to open the third and took the lead out to two runs for the Rebels when he scored from first on a double to the wall in left from Auston Bousfield. A groundout moved Bousfield to third before Allen would drive him in with a single to center that gave the Rebels a 3-0 lead.
Errol Robinson continued the hit parade in the inning, driving in Allen from second with a single to left center. Preston Overbey then extended the inning with a two-RBI double off the wall in straight-away center as the Rebels took a 6-0 lead on the Wildcats. Will Jamison poked one over the infield into shallow left to score Overbey and Ole Miss held a 7-0 lead on Kentucky after the top of the third.
The Rebels continued to build on the lead in the sixth, adding three runs to take the score out to 10-0 behind an RBI single from Allen and a two-RBI single off the wall in right from Orvis.
Kentucky got on the board in the bottom of the sixth when Reed hit a two-run shot over the wall in right field to cut the lead to 10-2 as Max Kuhn scored on the hit. Kuhn reached when he was hit by a pitch to keep the inning alive and bring Reed to the plate for the Wildcats.
The Rebels extended the lead in the ninth when a pinch hit double from J.B. Woodman started the final inning. Woodman took third on a wild pitch before a walk of Orvis would put men at the corners. Robinson then delivered a single through the left side to bring Woodman home and start a fourth rally on the night for Ole Miss.
A fly out to center moved Orvis to third before a wild pitch brought him home to take the lead out to 12-2 after the top of the ninth.
Kentucky would not go away, however, getting a two-run shot to right center from Storm Wilson to cut the lead to 12-4 on the Rebels with one out on the board. The Wildcats would get another single before Denny would get a strikeout and a flyout to end the game.
Ole Miss and Kentucky will continue the series at 12 noon CT Saturday at Cliff Hagan Stadium in a game televised by CSS.
–Bill Bunting, Ole Miss Media Relations
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