OXFORD – Junior Will Allen got his first home run of the year as part of a three-run first inning to set the stage for the Rebels’ second sweep of the season as No. 8 Ole Miss (7-0) defeated Rhode Island (0-6) by a score of 5-3 on Sunday at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field.
Austin Anderson and Auston Bousfield reached on back-to-back singles to put men at the corners in the first with one out. Stuart Turner then delivered a sac fly to center to score Anderson before Allen would step to the plate and send a 3-0 offering over the fence in left field to put Ole Miss on top by three runs.
The Rebels would never trail in the game on the way to the weekend sweep.
Aaron Greenwood (2-0) picked up the win in relief, working 3.0 innings and allowing one run on three this with a strikeout. Greenwood entered the game in the fourth inning with men at the corners and one out. The right-hander got the next Ram batter to ground into a double-play to end the inning and keep Ole Miss on top by three runs.
Brett Huber picked up his third save of the season, closing out the ninth by retiring all three batters faced.
Liam O’Sullivan (0-1) took the loss for Rhode Island, allowing five runs – four earned – on six hits with a strikeout in 2.0 innings of work. Bobby Dean then closed out the final 6.0 innings for the Rams.
“It was one of those grinded out types of games,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “Jim Foster does such a great job with that program. They don’t just play the game hard, they play the game right. They are able to catch it and throw it. They used two pitchers today, that doesn’t happen in the SEC. They come in as a visitor and only use six pitchers the whole weekend and were in every single game. You have to tip your hat to them. I’m proud of our guys and the way we hung in there.
“Offensively, we were able to put together a good inning in the first with Austin (Anderson) smoking a ball and getting a big hit off the first baseman, then a hit and run by Boz (Auston Bousfield) and of course the big 3-0 swing by Will Allen to get us on the board,” Bianco said, “You knew they would make a big run offensively. Sam (Smith) and Aaron (Greenwood) were able to minimize their run. (Jeremy) Massie came in and got some big outs for us. (Tanner) Bailey got a big one out for us in the eighth. That was about as good as (Brett) Huber has been all year.”
Ole Miss held the three-run lead after the first inning, but saw the Rams plate a run in the second inning to cut the lead to 3-1 on three consecutive singles after the first two batters flew out to open the inning. Starting pitcher Sam Smith got the Rebels out of the jam with no more damage, though, and the home team still on top by two runs.
The Rebels got the run back in the home half of the second, using an single to right field from Anderson to bring home Preston Overbey who had reached on an error to open the frame. Ole Miss then scored for the third consecutive inning with a sac fly from Andrew Mistone in the third to extend the lead to 5-1.
Rhode Island again pushed a run across the plate in the fourth when the Rams’ Kevin Stenhouse drew a walk and scored on a Chris Famiglietti triple in the next at bat. The run cut the lead to 5-2.
A third Rhode Island run came across the plate in the seventh with back-to-back from Famiglietti and Shane O’Connell. Ole Miss got the first out on a fielder’s choice and turned to the bullpen for Jeremy Massie.
The Rams put a second man on base with a bunt single, but Massie got the next two batters to hit into an infield fly and a groundout to end the inning with the Rebels on top 5-3.
The bullpen would keep things in check from there as Massie, Bailey and Huber closed things out to clinch the series sweep.
Ole Miss will return to action on Tuesday night with the first of two midweek games, facing the Memphis Tigers at 4 p.m. The Rebels will then host Arkansas-Pine Bluff at 4 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon before hitting the road for the first time this season.