Early surge propels Rebels

OleMissLogoBy Parrish Alford

Daily Journal

OXFORD – Ole Miss jumped on Missouri’s surprise starter early then held on for a 4-3 as Josh Laxer shut down the Tigers late.

A Swayze Field crowd of 9,651 watched the No. 20-ranked Rebels get home runs from Austin Anderson and Sikes Orvis to take a 3-0 lead in the first against Missouri’s John Miles. Laxer picked up his second save of the week, third of the season.

Miles was announced as today’s starter but was moved ahead in the rotation when regular Friday starter Brett Graves was hit in the head with an errant throw in warm-ups.

Graves’ 1.30 earned run average is the best among Missouri’s weekend starters, and Miles’ 5.76 ERA was in line with the rockets he gave up early.

Miles settled down. Will Allen drove in a run with a bloop single in the third, an inning that could have been bigger, and Miles strung together four-straight scoreless innings after that.

“We really didn’t want to go to (Laxer) that early just because we used him on Wednesday for an inning. We looked like we were in pretty good control, but it spirals out very quickly,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said.

The Tigers got off some good swings against Ole Miss starter Chris Ellis, but Ellis pitched around five hits with some good defense, and when he left after 71⁄3 innings the bases were empty, the score 4-1.

Missouri, though, got three straight hits against relievers Wyatt Short and Preston Tarkington to bring home two runs.

Laxer came on with the tying run at first and got a big strikeout before Allen threw out Shane Segovia at second to end the eighth.

He gave up a two-out single in the ninth before ending the game with a strikeout, his third against five batters faced.

Laxer delivers

It was a satisfying turnaround for Laxer, who gave up a game-tying homer in the ninth last Saturday at South Carolina in a game the Rebels lost in extra innings.

“Coach B sat me down and said I did what he wanted me to do and that was throw strikes. He said if I wanted to be the closer for this team then I’m going to have to have a short memory,” Laxer said. “That’s what I’ve tried to do.”

parrish.alford@journalinc.com