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No. 20 Diamond Rebels rally to sweep UNC-Wilmington

Alex Edwards/The Daily Mississippian

 

SUNDAY: OLE MISS 10 UNC-Wilmington 5

No. 20 Ole Miss (5-1) pounded out 16 hits and rallied from being down 5-4 to complete the series sweep Sunday with a 10-5 win against UNC Wilmington (2-5).

“I thought we played much better today,” head coach Mike Bianco said. “It was a much better offensive day — a lot more quality at bats. Even though we scored four early and then there was a couple zeros up, I thought today we had much better at bats with runners in scoring position.”

The Rebels again jumped out to an early lead with four runs in the first. Junior outfielder Tanner Mathis and Auston Bousfield reached base on a walk and hit-by-pitch to start the inning, and senior designated hitter Matt Snyder and junior third baseman Andrew Mistone followed with back-to-back RBI singles to score them. Senior Zach Kirksey doubled the lead with a 2-RBI double to left-centerfield. 

UNC-Wilmington grabbed its first lead of the weekend at 5-4 with a five-run fifth inning against sophomore right-hander Mike Mayers, who gave up five runs on six hits with two walks and four strikeouts in five innings.

“Mike was terrific,” Bianco said. “It happens; it’s baseball. It is a crazy game, and you can have a no-hitter and the next thing you know they have five runs.”

Ole Miss tied the game in the bottom of the inning with a RBI single by sophomore catcher Will Allen to score Snyder, who reached on a leadoff single. 

The Rebels added two more runs in the sixth, one in the seventh and two in the eighth, highlighted by junior second baseman Alex Yarbrough’s solo home run in the eighth.

Freshman right-hander Chris Ellis (1-0) came on in relief for Mayers with the score tied at five and pitched three hitless innings to earn the win, the first of his career.

“I’m proud of him,” Bianco said. “He was strong, he pounded the strike zone, he’s got a fastball and a strong breaking ball. He was very composed and did great.”

The Rebels will continue their 13-game home stand against Memphis on Tuesday (3 p.m.) and Jackson State on Wednesday (6:30 p.m.).

SATURDAY: OLE MISS 6 UNC-WILMINGTON 4

No. 20 Ole Miss clinched the weekend Saturday with a 6-4 win against UNC-Wilmington. Senior right-hander R.J. Hively (1-0) struck out a career-high nine batters in five and two-thirds innings and junior right hander Brett Huber passed Scott Bittle for third all-time at Ole Miss with his third save of the season, the 19th of his career.

“R.J. was terrific early,” Bianco said. “He was very dominant with his slider, struck out five of the first six, and we scored five, and at that point you thought we were going to have a comfortable day, but you have to credit UNC-Wilmington because when we stopped putting pressure on offensively, they started putting pressure on us. We have to have a little more focus.”

For the second day in a row, Ole Miss got on the board first. Snyder cleared the bases with a three-run double off the wall in right-center in the first. 

“Coach Bianco said before the game that we needed to come out here and have someone give them a smack in the mouth, that big hit to get the game going,” he said. “So I got up with the bases loaded, and I really wanted to make sure I did what he told me to do. Any time you get bases loaded in the first inning, and you’re able to clear them — that’s a big momentum keeper for the team.”

The Rebels added to their lead in the next inning when Yarbrough scored Mathis and freshman outfielder Senquez Golson with a 2-RBI single to make it 5-0. UNC-Wilmington got to within one with a run in the fifth and three runs in the sixth.

The Rebels pushed across an insurance run in the sixth on an RBI double by Bousfield to score Golson.

Freshman right-hander Casey Mulholland, junior left-hander Dylan Chavez and Huber pitched a combined three and one-third scoreless innings in relief of Hively.

FRIDAY: OLE MISS 2 UNC-WILMINGTON 0

Sophomore Bobby Wahl (1-0) pitched seven scoreless innings, holding the Seahawks to one hit with two walks and nine strikeouts as No. 20 Ole Miss took the opening game 2-0 on Friday.

“I thought the story of the game was Bobby,” Bianco said. “He was just tremendous. He pitched much more like we thought he was capable of pitching week in and week out.” 

“It was good to get out here in front of the home crowd,” Wahl said. “The biggest thing is you have to settle in and just continue to throw strikes and then let your defense work, and they did a great job today.”

Early on in the game it looked like both offenses would have some success, with both teams putting runners on base early. However, both pitchers settled in and limited the scoring opportunities for both teams.

Ole Miss got on the board first in the third. Mathis singled up the middle and then stole second, and Yarbrough followed with a single to shallow center to score Mathis.

The Rebels added an insurance run on an RBI single to right by Bousfield to score Mathis from second, who reached on a two-base error.

Chavez and Huber came on in relief for Wahl and pitched a scoreless eighth and ninth to close out the series-opening win for Ole Miss.