Rebels must focus on avoiding sweep

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Ole Miss baseball coach Mike Bianco will hand the ball to junior college transfer Austin Wright at noon today with hopes of avoiding the Rebels’ first sweep since the final regular season series of 2010.
Brian Johnson pitched 62⁄3 scoreless innings, and No. 5 Florida defeated the Rebels 8-1 Saturday to secure an SEC series victory before 4,305 fans at McKethan Stadium.
Johnson (7-1) held the Rebels to four hits and a walk. He had nine strikeouts.
“Brian Johnson was terrific for them tonight,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “We had opportunities early in the first and third inning and couldn’t come up with the big hit to get the run home. That was the difference tonight; they came up with the big hits to extend innings. They outplayed us in all phases. We’ve got to come back tomorrow and play hard for nine innings and compete.”
The Rebels’ best chance to do damage was in the third when they loaded the bases with two outs, but a diving catch on a fly ball from Matt Tracy to left field ended the inning to keep Ole Miss off the board.
The lone run for the Rebels came on a solo home run by Miles Hamblin in the seventh.
The Gators won the series opener 9-3 Friday night and have outscored the Rebels 17-4 in two games. Ole Miss (24-19, 9-11 SEC) has won just two of seven conference series this season. The Rebels begin the day tied with Auburn for third place in the Western Division and tied for seventh in the overall standings. The top eight teams qualify for the SEC tournament.
Ole Miss starter David Goforth (3-6) gave up seven hits and five earned runs in 52⁄3 innings.
Catcher Mike Zunino and third baseman Jeff Moyer were each 2 for 4 with a home run for Florida (33-10, 16-4).
For Ole Miss, Tanner Mathis and Blake Newalu, the leadoff and two-hole hitters, were each 2 for 4. The Rebels’ sixth hit was a single by Tracy.

Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal