FINAL: Ole Miss 7, LSU 4
A big win for the Rebels to draw even in the series.
With one game remaining, tomorrow against RPI No. 5 LSU, the Rebels are 6-5 against Florida, Arkansas, Kentucky and LSU - four SEC teams who rank in the RPI top 10.
RPI is a big deal, but at some point you have to win. A sweep would have been very damaging for Ole Miss, and frankly, the Rebels' chances to win look bleaker the deeper you get into an SEC series these days.
Maybe Dylan Chavez will turn that trend around tomorrow as the new Sunday starter. The last two Sunday starters haven't reached the second inning.
Another big RPI win further strengthens the NCAA resume and takes some pressure off for the Tennessee series next weekend. Alabama and Tennessee are the most likely candidates to be left out of the new 10-team SEC tournament at this point. Ole Miss will have at least a two-game lead on the Vols when they visit next weekend, depending on what happens tomorrow.
Given the offensive struggles of late this team needs to focus on securing an NCAA bid, but if it can steal a win tomorrow the host conversation remains on the table.
As far as Saturday, there was more efficiency on offense and more solid work from the bullpen.
There have been several stinging losses this season, games the Rebels believe they let slip away. A 13-inning loss Friday with multiple opportunities for a walk-off win was one of those games.
Today the Rebels were much better with runners in scoring position. Tanner Mathis had two RBI hits, Andrew Mistone one, and Alex Yarbrough drove in a run on a ground out.
Yarbrough looked good in his last two at-bats, a sharp single that ended an 0-for-8 slump for the series and later a line drive that was caught.
Zach Kirksey had a solo home run as part of a three-run fourth after LSU had scored four to go up 4-1 in the top of the frame.
The big news for the offense was Auston Bousfield's two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh that gave some breathing room to Brett Huber as he recorded his eighth save.
It was the first home run of the freshman Bousfield's career, and it bounced off the foul pole in left field.
He talks about it in the video above.
Tanner Bailey and Josh Ellis combined for three scoreless innings before the hand off to Huber. The bullpen has allowed just three runs in the last 24 innings.
The four Ole Miss pitchers combined to hold LSU's Raph Rhymes, the nation's leading hitter, to a 1-for-3 day. He was hit by a pitch and scored in the fourth and had a one-out single in the eighth when he was reited on a double play, one of four turned by the Rebels.
A few notes going into Game 2.
One, Mike Mayers has been good, but he's got a wall, and the last two Saturdays he's had RJ Hively behind him not today. Someone else will have to fill that bullpen role to give the Rebels a chance.
They let a great opportunity slip away last night. If they don't win today, given the recent troubles of Sunday starting pitching, the sweep probability increases unless they can reverse their recent unfortunate scoring trend.
The Rebels are averaging 2.5 runs in their last six SEC games. They are 2-4 in that span.
Alex Yarbrough had two chances to drive in the winning run last night. He finished 0-for-6 for the game. Since having his 22-game hit streak snapped last Sunday at MSU, Yarbrough has two hits in his last 12 at-bats over three games.
Yarbrough began the series hitting .417 and is down to .403. LSU's Raph Rhymes began the series hitting .503 and is at .500. He was 2-for-5 last night.
Interesting note for the day. LSU is 27-2 in night games, 10-8 in day games.
CF Arby Fields .259
SS Austin Nola .299
R Mason Katz .335
LF Raph Rhymes .500
1B Tyler Moore .276
DH Grant Dozar .274
C Ty Ross .301
3B Tyler Hanover .294
2B Jacoby Jones .249
RHP Ryan Eades 5-2, 3.29
LF Tanner Mathis .331
3B Andrew Mistone .252
2B Alex Yarbrough .403
1B Matt Snyder .348
C Will Allen .345
DH Zach Kirksey .288
CF Auston Bousfield .273
SS Austin Anderson .220
RF Will Jamison .255
RHP Mike Mayers 4-2, 3.69