HOUSTON, Texas – The Rebel offense pounded out 17 hits to give great run support to the Rebel pitching staff and help grab a series win on the road as Ole Miss (7-1) defeated Houston (5-2) by a score of 8-3 on Sunday at Cougar Field.
Tanner Mathis led the Rebel offense with a 4-for-4 day, while Matt Snyder went 3-for-5 and Zach Kirksey went 3-for-4, including a two-run home run from Kirksey that helped propel Ole Miss to the win.
Austin Wright (1-0) picked up the win in the start, working 5.1 innings and allowing only three runs on eight hits with three walks and six strikeouts. Jake Morgan picked up his second save of the season, working 3.1 scoreless innings to close out the game with three hits and a strikeout. Morgan entered the game with two men on and the tying run at the plate in the sixth inning.
Taylor Hammack (0-1) suffered the loss for the Cougars, allowing five runs on five hits with a walk and a strikeout in 1.0 innings of relief work. Hammack entered in the third to relieve starter Chase Dempsay with the score tied at one.
“We didn’t necessarily play our cleanest game today, but we played well enough to win offensively,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “Austin Wright’s stuff on the mound was electric and as long as he keeps battling good things will happen. Jake Morgan was just tremendous for us out of the bullpen today.
“The Rebel crowd was great,” Bianco said. “The fans here in Texas have always been great. Any time you can go on the road and hear your fans like we did this weekend, it’s a great feeling.”
Houston struck first, pushing a run across the plate with a long fly ball to left field from Caleb Ramsey that scored Ryan Still from second. The ball caught in the breeze and drifted back to the wall coming out of Kirksey’s glove as he hit the wall drifting back to catch the ball. The Rebels minimized the damage in the inning, turning a double play in the next at bat to get out of the inning down 1-0.
Zach Kirksey got the Rebels on the board in the top of the second, hitting a double to right field that scored Matt Tracy from second with two outs. Tracy reached on a single before moving to second on a sac bunt from Miles Hamblin to get into scoring position for the Kirksey hit.
The Rebels moved into the lead in the third when Matt Snyder doubled to left field with two men on base. The hit scored Tanner Mathis from second and put two men in scoring position as Yarbrough moved from first to third on the play. Preston Overbey then grounded out to short, but pushed a second run across the plate as Yarbrough scored and Snyder advanced to third with the Rebels up 3-1.
Ole Miss continued to build on the lead in the fourth inning, pushing three more runs across the plate to take the lead out to 6-1. Miles Hamblin singled to open the inning before Kirksey homered to straight-away center with a shot that went over the batter’s eye. Will Allen reached on a single in the next at bat and scored two batters later on a single from Tanner Mathis that gave the Rebels the five run lead.
Houston cut back into the lead in the fifth inning with a pair of runs in a quirky inning. Still opened the inning with a double to left and took third on a groundout to short. Still then scored on a double to center from Ramsey. A wild pitch moved Ramsey to third before Wright would notch a strikeout for the second out in the inning.
Codey Morehouse then came up with an awkward RBI single as he popped a ball up high into the infield that dropped in just out of the reach of a lunging Overbey as several Rebels converged on the fly ball. Ole Miss got out of the inning with a three-run lead with a fly out in the next at bat to end the frame.
Ole Miss added two more runs in the eighth inning to push the lead to 8-3. Mathis led things off with a single before moving to third on a ground rule double from Snyder. With two outs on the board, Eric Sauls came up with his first hit as a Rebel, driving in both Mathis and Snyder to give Ole Miss the five-run advantage.
Morgan and the Rebels then held the Cougars off the board the rest of the way to claim the series with the Sunday win.
Ole Miss will return to action on Tuesday night when the Rebels host Austin Peay in the first game of a two-game mid-week series and the start of a 15-game home stand. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. at O-U Stadium/Swayze Field.
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