By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Ten runs, 14 hits and no errors is a linescore you expect to see from the nation’s second-ranked team.
Maybe that’s why South Carolina players walked off the Swayze Field turf with their heads hung on Saturday.
In its highest RPI win of the season, Ole Miss pounded No. 2 South Carolina 10-2 before an announced crowd of 8,046.
After a 6-1 loss in Friday’s series opener, the Rebels picked up a key win in their quest for an SEC tournament berth. Ole Miss began the day tied with rival Mississippi State for the eighth and final qualifying spot. The Bulldogs won 5-3 leaving the two teams tied for going into today’s action.
The Bulldogs visit Swayze Field for three games beginning Thursday.
Before then, there’s a decisive game to play against South Carolina. The Rebels haven’t won a series against an SEC opponent that finished the season with a winning conference record since they defeated Florida in two games March 26-28 of last year.
Saturday’s game was the largest margin of defeat this season for the Gamecocks (37-9, 18-5 SEC), the defending national champions.
“This was huge. Lots of teams won in the West yesterday, and it was big to get this win. Now we have to come out with great energy and get a big win tomorrow,” Ole Miss second baseman Alex Yarbrough said.
Yarbrough did his part with two hits, two runs and four RBIs. He had a two-run home run to give the Rebels (26-21, 10-13 SEC) a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first and was strong in the field, moving to his right to make a play in the hole for the first out of the sixth when the Rebels held a 4-2 lead.
Miles Hamblin also had a home run, and both Hamblin and freshman Austin Anderson had three hits and two RBIs.
Starting pitcher David Goforth (4-6) pitched six complete innings for the first time in his last three starts, scattering five hits, walking one and striking out four.
“It’s been a while since we’ve played this well in all phases, and it starts on the mound,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “We had given up a lot of runs even in some victories.”
Goforth said Bianco challenged the pitchers to start “winning on the mound.”
That’s something he did in the fifth, when his cut fastball was particularly effective. Goforth gave up a leadoff double to nine-hole hitter Steven Neff, who began the day batting .095, but rallied for three straight outs against the top of the order and ending with a called strikeout of Christian Walker, the Gamecocks’ leading hitter.
There were reminders of some things that have contributed to 21 losses this season.
The offensive onslaught glossed over baserunning mistakes – The Rebels were caught in a rundown three times including once from third base – an inability to lay down a sacrifice bunt in four attempts.
The Rebels had enough in the tank, though, putting up three runs in both the sixth and seventh innings.
Brett Huber and Mike Mayers combined for three innings of scoreless relief, two by Huber, who gave up no hits and walked two. The Rebels turned a 6-4-3 double play behind him to alter the outlook of the seventh after a leadoff walk.
South Carolina used seven pitchers and got just an inning and a third from starter Colby Holmes.
Bianco refused to put too much emphasis on one big win.
“They’re all big. We started with nine games left, then eight and now seven, but when you lose you feel like you’ve lost an opportunity,” he said. “Then when you win, you have a chance for another opportunity.”