By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – If Ole Miss emerges from its disappointing current state to become the aggressive, fiery offense it showed earlier this season, it won’t look back at Tuesday’s game against Southern Mississippi as a turning point.
Four Southern Miss pitchers gave up five walks and hit four batters but limited the Rebels to three hits in winning 10-0 before an announced crowd of 6,859 at Swayze Field.
Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco shrugged off the fact that the Rebels were without their leading hitter, injured Alex Yarbrough, and called it a “total team disaster.”
It’s the fourth loss in six games for No. 17 Ole Miss, which had risen to No. 12 in the Baseball America Top 25 leading into last weekend’s SEC series opener when Auburn won two at Swayze Field.
The Golden Eagles finished with 17 hits, led by Blake Brown, who singled, doubled, homered and drove in three runs.
There was nice defensive work for the Golden Eagles (12-9) too, particularly in the sixth when second baseman Isaac Rodriguez and third baseman Travis Creel robbed hits from Ole Miss batters Andrew Mistone and Preston Overbey.
It was a 4-0 game after six innings, when Southern Miss stretched things out against the Rebels’ bullpen. Brown’s home run, a three-run job, came in the seventh.
Southern Miss coach Scott Berry was shaking his head just like Bianco.
“I don’t know. What do you say? That’s baseball. We played very well in all phases. We hit the ball, we had timely hits, we played outstanding defense,” he said. “It was our night, and that’s baseball.”
The Golden Eagles turned three double plays, two of them off the bat of one of the Rebels’ top run-producers, Matt Snyder.
The Rebels missed an excellent chance to score in the second when Will Allen singled, and Andrew Mistone walked.
Zach Kirksey bunted both runners ahead, but the sacrifice was followed by a swinging strikeout from Overbey and a grounder to third by Auston Bousfield.
Ole Miss loaded the bases without the benefit of a hit in the fifth inning, but Snyder’s fly ball stranded three.
The Golden Eagles have struggled with injuries and inexperience in their first 21 games.
“I’ve been disappointed in the way we’ve played so far, I think our team has been disappointed,” Berry said. “We’ve shown signs of being really good, but the biggest thing we have to do with our players, where we are injury-wise and everything, is we’ve got to learn to play consistently.”