UNIVERSITY PARK, Fla. – Sophomore right-hander Sam Smith turned in a stellar performance for the Rebels on Sunday, allowing only one unearned run through six innings as No. 8 Ole Miss (11-1) defeated Florida International (7-5) by a score of 8-1.
The win completed a series sweep of the Panthers and gave the Ole Miss its third consecutive series sweep to open the season. It’s the first time the Rebels have posted three series sweeps to open a year since the 2004 season.
Smith (2-0) made the start in place of slated starter Chris Ellis and was masterful in frustrating FIU hitters during his 6.0 innings of work. He allowed one unearned run on six scattered hits with a walk and five strikeouts in his time on the mound.
Mike Franco (1-1) took the loss for the Panthers, allowing two runs on two hits with two walks and a strikeout across 4.0 innings on the mound.
Stuart Turner capped off a great weekend at the plate with another solid performance Sunday. The junior catcher went 3-for-4 with three RBI and two runs scored in the sweep clinching win. Ole Miss once again proved to be an opportunistic offense, using 10 hits to snag the eight runs in the outing.
“We played great this weekend,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “This was three of the best games we’ve played in one weekend that I can remember in a while. We did a tremendous job on the mound, especially with the four guys over the last two games who made a very good offensive team struggle.
“Sam (Smith) did a great job today of working the inside of the plate and really frustrating their hitters,” Bianco said. “We continued to do well getting the two-out hits. Our offense was good with Stuart (Turner) having a great weekend, but so many guys throughout the lineup had good at bats and big hits.”
The Rebels broke up the pitcher’s duel in the fourth inning, pushing two runs home with a two-out rally. Auston Bousfield drew a walk before coming home on a triple to right center from Stuart Turner. Turner’s ball was caught, but the two fielders collided and the ball was dropped to allow the run to score and Turner to get to third. Andrew Mistone then doubled down the left field line to drive in Turner and give Ole Miss the 2-0 lead.
The Rebels added to the lead in the fifth inning, loading the bases with no outs before Anderson would draw a walk to bring home the first run and keep the bases loaded. Bousfield then grounded into a double play at second, but brought home a second run to put Ole Miss on top 4-0. The Rebels added the fifth run of the game off a double to left from Turner to score Mathis before FIU would get out of the inning.
Florida International got a run back in the bottom of the fifth when a fielding error at first base with men at the corners and two outs allowed a run to come home. The Rebels then got a groundout to short to end the inning.
Ole Miss got the run back in the sixth when Will Jamison hit a liner to right that clipped the glove of a leaping first baseman and brought Sikes Orvis home. Orvis opened the inning with a triple down the right field line to set up the RBI hit by Jamison to put the Rebels back on top 6-1.
The Rebels plated two more runs in the seventh with a Turner double that scored Anderson from first. Turner moved to third on the play to set up an RBI double from Mistone to center field that gave the Rebels the seven-run lead.
Greenwood kept the Panthers off the board for the final three innings to collect the save and clinch the sweep for the Rebels.
Ole Miss will return to action Tuesday with a 5 p.m. contest against Southeastern Louisiana at Swayze Field. It will be the first of a pair of midweek games against the Lions. The second game will begin at 11 a.m. on Wednesday morning and will be School Day at the ballpark with area school students coming to the game for free to experience a collegiate baseball game.