By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Friday night was not your run-of-the-mill defeat, and it took something beyond the norm for Ole Miss to even its SEC series with No. 4 LSU on Saturday.
Freshman Auston Bousfield was pleased to fill a different role.
The Rebels’ center fielder bounced his first collegiate home run off the foul pole in left field, a two-run shot in the seventh that gave the bullpen some breathing room. Brett Huber came on in the eighth and pitched two scoreless innings, and No. 24 Ole Miss won 7-4 before a crowd of 9,040 at Swayze Field.
After Will Allen drew a leadoff walk, pinch-runner Senquez Golson scored ahead of Bousfield.
“I knew it was gone. It was a matter of whether it would stay fair or not,” said Bousfield, a .273 hitter in the No. 7 hole.
The decisive Game 3 begins at 1:30 p.m. today. Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said left-handed pitcher Dylan Chavez, a junior college transfer, will make his first start.
Ole Miss (31-17, 11-12 SEC) was more efficient with runners in scoring position than in Friday’s 4-3 13-inning loss.
Tanner Mathis had two RBI hits, Andrew Mistone one, and Alex Yarbrough drove in a run on a ground out.
Mathis and Mistone had back-to-back run-scoring hits in the fourth, part of a three-run inning after LSU had gone ahead 4-1 in the top of the frame. The Ole Miss fourth included a solo home run from Zach Kirksey.
It stayed 4-4 until the sixth when a Mathis single followed a Will Jamison double.
Saturday was a day for efficiency on the mound as well as the plate. The Rebels turned four double plays, including a game-ender when Huber got a ground ball from Tyler Hanover.
The Ole Miss bullpen has given up just three runs in the last 24 innings. Tanner Bailey and Chris Ellis combined for three scoreless innings leading up to the hand off to Huber, who recorded his eighth save of the season, the 24th of his career to tie him with Justin Huisman for No. 2 on the career list.
Ole Miss starter Mike Mayers went four innings with four hits and four runs, all earned.
LSU (37-11, 15-8) finished with seven hits, only one of them by national-leader Raph Rhymes, who began the day hitting .500.
Bianco has danced around the missed opportunities topic with players. He hopes there’s quality at-bat carry-over as the Rebels go for the series win today.
“We haven’t talked about it a ton. We’ve tried to stay the course and talk about quality at-bats, but a part of quality at-bats is with runners in scoring position,” Bianco said. “We want to control the at-bat, have a quality at-bat.”