By Ole Miss Media Relations
OXFORD – Matt Tracy struck out a career-high 10 batters and helped lead a Rebel pitching staff that shut down the Tigers as No. 18 Ole Miss (7-1) defeated Memphis (2-5) by a score of 7-2 on Tuesday at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field.
Tracy worked 5.0 innings and fanned 10 batters while allowing two runs – one earned – on three hits, but took no decision in the start as he left the game with the score tied at two after five innings. Sophomore southpaw Matt Crouse (1-0) picked up the win as he worked 1.1 innings with a walk and three strikeouts as part of the 15 strikeout night by the Rebels.
Heath Hatfield (1-2) suffered the loss for the Tigers as he allowed four runs on three hits with five walks and six strikeouts. Hatfield left the game in the sixth with the bases loaded. Ole Miss would break the tie in the next at bat on a bases-loaded single from freshman Alex Yarbrough saddling Hatfield with the loss.
“This was another well played game on our part,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “The temperature and the wind caused this game to be heavy on pitching. Matt Tracy settled in after the first inning and pitched terrifically. Everyone who pitched tonight did well. Alex Yarbrough was tremendous. He hit well and turned a big double play.
“We are ready to test ourselves on the road at Tulane. I am anxious to see their new facility and I hope it will be a good trip for us.”
Memphis got on the board first, putting up two runs in the first inning as the Tigers capitalized on a pair of hits and a passed ball. Drew Martinez opened with a double before Chad Zurcher drew a walk. Adam McClain then singled to score Martinez and moved Zurcher to third. Zurcher then scored on a passed ball to give the Tigers the 2-0 lead.
Ole Miss got a run back in the bottom half of the inning when Tim Ferguson scored on a groundout from Matt Smith. Ferguson singled to reach base and moved to second on a groundout to first from Tanner Mathis. He took third on a balk and scored on the groundout to third from Smith to cut the lead to 2-1.
The Rebels then tied the game in the third when Ferguson came up with his first home run of the season, hitting one over the wall in left field to even things at two.
Ole Miss took the lead in the sixth when Yarbrough came up to the plate with the bases loaded and ripped shot through the left side, scoring Matt Smith. Kevin Mort then hit a grounder to short that scored Matt Snyder and put the Rebels up 4-2 after six innings.
The Rebels added two more runs to the board in the seventh, using back-to-back doubles from Smith and Snyder to score the first run of the frame. A single from Zach Miller pushed Snyder across the plate and Ole Miss led 6-2.
The final run of the game came in the eighth when Taylor Hightower hit a sac fly to left field, scoring Yarbrough from third. Yarbrough tripled off the wall in right field to open the inning and get in position to score on the Hightower fly out, giving the Rebels the final 7-2 margin of victory.
Yarbrough finished the night 2-for-2 at the plate with two walks, a run scored and the go ahead RBI. Ferguson was the only other Rebel with multiple hits on the night as he went 2-for-5 at the plate with two runs scored and an RBI.
The Rebels used four pitchers on the night who combined for 15 strikeouts and held the Tigers to only three hits. After Tracy’s 5.0 innings, the Rebels turned to Crouse, Brett Huber and Eric Callender who combined to hold the Tigers hitless and allowed only one base runner.
Ole Miss returns to action on Friday with the first game in a three-game series at Tulane. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. on Friday.