By Ole Miss Media Relations
PEARL – Zach Miller went 4-for-5 at the plate with five RBI to help pace the Rebel offense as No. 17 Ole Miss (16-5) defeated Southern Miss (13-6) by a score of 11-6 at Trustmark Park on Tuesday.
The Rebels notched 14 hits and drew seven walks in the outing to pick up the win in the first of two mid-week games this week. Ole Miss will host Saint Louis at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field.
Eric Callender (1-0) picked up the win in relief as he worked 4.0 innings and held the Golden Eagles to two runs on four hits with six strikeouts. Callender entered the game in the fifth inning with two men on base in the fifth inning and struck out the next three batters to get the Rebels out of a jam.
Dylan Day (0-2) suffered the loss for Southern Miss in his relief appearance, giving up four runs on three hits with three walks and three strikeouts. He entered the game in the second inning with the game tied at four after a two-run home run from Miles Hamblin knotted things up.
“Defensively we didn’t play well tonight, and I think both teams are better than we both showed tonight,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “Fortunately for us, we swung the bat well. I’m proud of the way Matt Crouse hung in there with this atmosphere against a great team – that says a lot about him. He found his command and just gutted it out after the first inning. Eric Callender is just terrific for us. He is one of the first pitchers out of the pen and really kept the momentum in our dugout tonight.”
Ole Miss struck first, coming up with a two-RBI double from Zach Miller with two outs on the board in the first. The rocket to the wall in left center scored Alex Yarbrough and Matt Snyder on the play, both of whom had reached base on walks.
Southern Miss answered in the bottom half of the frame, using a double and a fielding error in right field to put leadoff hitter Kameron Brunty on third. Crouse then hit Taylor Walker to put two men on before a wild pitch scored Brunty and moved Walker to second. A balk then moved Walker to third. Crouse walked B.A. Vollmuth in the third at bat to put men at the corners with no outs. Another wild pitch put men on first and second before Joey Archer walked to load the bases with no outs.
A groundout to second from Adam Doleac pushed a second run home as Walker crossed the plate and tied the game at two. Mark Ellis then popped out to second to give the Rebels two outs, but Anthony Doss came up with a two-RBI single up the middle to give the Golden Eagles the 4-2 lead.
Miles Hamblin came up with a two-run home run in the second, scoring Taylor Hightower to even the score at four runs each. Hightower singled to center to open the inning before Hamblin hit his third home run of the season. Back-to-back singles and a wild pitch put Kevin Mort and Yarbrough at second and third when Taylor Hashman drew a walk to load the bases with no outs. Southern Miss got out of the inning, however as three straight strikeouts with the bases loaded ended the inning after the Golden Eagles went to Day in the bullpen.
Ole Miss moved back into the lead in the fourth inning when Matt Snyder was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to push Yarbrough across the plate. Miller then came up with a two-RBI single to left field to drive in two more runs and put the Rebels on top 7-4. Ole Miss extended the lead to 8-4 on a double to left from Hightower that scored Snyder and sent Southern Miss to the bullpen again with runners at second and third. Seth Hester got the Golden Eagles out of the inning with a pop up in the next at bat, but Ole Miss leading by four runs.
Southern Miss rallied in the fifth with back-to-back singles to open the home half of the inning before Ole Miss went to the bullpen for Eric Callender. The junior struck out the next three batters to end the threat and keep the Rebels in the lead by four.
The Rebels added to the lead in the seventh when Yarbrough hit a single to left that scored Hamblin from third. Southern Miss went to the pen for the fourth time on the night, calling on Cody Schlagel with runners at first and second. A double steal moved Mort and Yarbrough into scoring position with one out on the board for Tim Ferguson.
Ferguson reached on a fielder’s choice on a grounder to short where the shortstop threw home to get Mort out, but Yarbrough advanced to third. A bunt single from Matt Snyder scored Yarbrough and pushed Ferguson to third, but Snyder was injured on the play and left the game for pinch runner Jordan King. A double to right center from Miller in the next at bat scored Ferguson and put the Rebels up 11-4 after six and a half innings of play.
Southern Miss responded in the bottom half of the inning, pushing two runs across the plate to cut the lead to 11-6. The Golden Eagles would get no closer, however, as Callender and Hamblin would hold them off the board the rest of the way.