By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – The King would have been proud of Matt Crouse.
Crouse, a sophomore left-hander, carried a no-hitter into the sixth, and Matt Smith had four hits and three RBIs to lead No. 19 Ole Miss to a 7-2 win over Southern Mississippi before a crowd of 5,888 at Swayze Field Tuesday on “Elvis Night.”
Tupelo residents were admitted free, and Elvis Presley music was featured throughout the game on the stadium sound system.
The win is the second straight for Ole Miss (25-13) after four straight losses. No. 8 LSU visits this weekend when SEC play resumes.
Southern Miss (18-17) got three of its five hits and both runs in the ninth.
“Matt was tremendous,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “His fastball had late life, he was dominant on the outer portion of the plate, and he threw a lot of first-pitch strikes.”
Eight-hole hitter Travis Graves broke up Crouse’s no-hitter leading off the sixth.
His pop-up on the outfield grass behind first base dropped to the right of second baseman Alex Yarbrough after Yarbrough over-ran it and slipped trying to recover.
Crouse gave up a one-out walk in the same inning, but the inning ended when Taylor Walker grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.
Afterward he didn’t brood about what might have been.
“That was a tough play. It was a tough sky as the sun was going down. They had trouble with some fly balls too,” he said. “That’s baseball.”
Crouse went six innings with one hit, no runs, three walks and five strikeouts.
Freshman Jordan Cooper allowed one hit and no runs, as Southern Miss reached the ninth with only two hits.
The Golden Eagles did have some hard-hit balls that ended in nice defensive plays for Ole Miss, one of those a back-handed stab of a hard ground ball down the third-base line by Zach Miller.
Ole Miss got on the board in the first when Smith singled with two outs and scored on a right field home run by designated hitter Matt Snyder.
It was still 2-0 in the fifth when Smith delivered his own home run, his team-leading eighth of the year, on a line drive to left field.
Taylor Hashman had doubled, Miles Hamblin had walked, and they scored in front of Smith.
Ole Miss had 11 hits in the game.
“That was more like us offensively,” Bianco said. “We were more efficient.”
Ole Miss 7, Southern Miss 2
Southern Miss 000 000 002 - 2 5 1
Ole Miss 200 032 00X - 7 11 0
WP: Matt Crouse (3-1). LP: Seth Hester (1-1). Multiple Hits: (OM) Matt Smith 4, Matt Snyder, Alex Yarbrough, Taylor Hashman. 2B: (OM) Smith, Snyder, Hashman. (SM) Tyler Koelling. HR: (OM) Snyder, Smith. LOB: Southern Miss 6, Ole Miss 4. DP: Southern Miss 2, Ole Miss 1. T: 2:40. A: 5,888.
Records: Ole Miss 25-13, Southern Miss 18-17