OXFORD – Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco wasn’t going to let Georgia All-American Rich Poythress, with 20 home runs, win the game Friday night, but Joey Lewis launched the bomb instead.
An intentional walk to Poythress was followed by an unintentional one, and Lewis sent a belt-high fastball from David Goforth into the left field seats for a grand slam to lift the Bulldogs, ranked No. 1 in the coaches poll, to a 6-3 win the SEC series opener at Swayze Field.
A crowd of 9,232, fourth-largest in stadium history, watched Ole Miss and Georgia play to a 2-2 stalemate through six innings.
The Rebels, ranked 11th by Baseball America, could have taken a late lead with a slam of their own, but pinch-hitter David Phillips hit a ground ball to third against Georgia closer Dean Weaver with two outs in the eighth.
The Rebels (30-12, 11-8, SEC) will try to avoid getting double-decked by the Bulldogs in the second game at 4 p.m. today. Ole Miss has lost three of its last four SEC home games.
“When you’re a reliever you go after the hitters, and that’s what we did. It looked like the pitch was up a little bit, and Lewis put a good swing on it,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “At the end of the day, they got the hits, and we didn’t.”
Three Georgia pitchers held Ole Miss to four hits, and Weaver picked up his ninth save. The Bulldogs turned two double plays, including one in the ninth on a ground ball to short by Logan Power after Jordan Henry led off with a walk.
Ole Miss starter Drew Pomeranz went 61/3 innings with seven hits, two walks and eight strikeouts. He gave up three runs, two earned.
Goforth inherited a runner at second with one out in a 2-2 game. He quickly got a fly ball out but faced four more batters and allowed three walks – one intentional to Poythress – and the grand slam on a 1-1 count.
“It was supposed to be a fastball in, and it got out over the plate a little bit. That happens,” said Goforth, a redshirt freshman. “I should have made a better pitch before that.”
Poythress gets his
Poythress did his damage in other at-bats. He was 3-for-3 with two walks, and his two-run double in the first gave the Bulldogs (33-9, 14-5 SEC) the early lead. The Rebels were playing Poythress to pull in the first, and when he dropped a Pomeranz pitch the opposite way into right field, Matt Cerione and Colby Mayo, who had reached on an error and a walk, scored easily.
The Rebels tied it in the bottom of the first when Henry walked, and Power drilled a Holder fastball over the wall in straight-away center.
Ole Miss didn’t score again until the eighth when catcher Kyle Henson had a solo home run that came right after Zach Miller hit into a 6-4-3 double play.
Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal