UNIVERSITY PARK, Fla. –Austin Anderson went 4-for-5 to help pace a Rebel offense that needed each one of its 16 hits on the night as No. 8 Ole Miss (9-1) defeated Florida International (7-3) by a score of 11-9 on Friday night in the series opener.
Anderson drove in three runs and scored two, while Stuart Turner also came up big with a 3-for-5 night with three RBI. Eight Rebels notched hits on the night, including multiple-hit outings from four players.
Bobby Wahl (3-0) picked up the win, allowing four runs on nine hits with three walks and four strikeouts through 5.1 innings of work. Brett Huber picked up his fourth save of the season, closing out the ninth inning after coming into the game with a three-run lead and following a solo home run to open the inning.
Michael Ellis (1-1) suffered the loss for Florida International, allowing eight runs on eight hits with four walks and seven strikeouts through 6.0 innings of work.
“One of the good things about tonight was we kept scoring throughout the game,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “It can be very deflating to team to put together a rally and then have your opponent continue to answer with another score. We kept doing that tonight and it was important for us in getting the win.”
Ole Miss got out to an early lead on the Panthers with a pair of runs in the first inning. Tanner Mathis started things off with a walk before Austin Anderson singled to right field. Mathis advanced to third on the play, then scored when the throw from the right fielder sailed high over third. Anderson took second on the throw. Anderson scored two batters later when Stuart Turner doubled down the left field line to give the Rebels the 2-0 lead.
The Panthers then ended the Ole Miss rally with a pair of strikeouts.
Florida International answered in the bottom half of the inning, using a single and a walk to put two men on base before Edwin Rios would single to left and score lead-off hitter Julius Gaines. The Rebels then snagged a fly out and turned a double play on a grounder to third to get out of the inning with the one-run lead.
The Rebels added three more runs in the second inning, pushing the lead out to 5-1. Will Jamison and Preston Overbey both reached then advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch. Mathis then hit a grounder to first where the fielder scooped and threw home, allowing Mathis to reach as Jamison slid in under the tag to score. Overbey came home on a sac fly from Anderson for the second run of the inning.
Auston Bousfield singled to right to move Mathis to third before a wild pitch brought the Rebel lead-off hitter home to give Ole Miss the four-run lead.
The Panthers again answered in the bottom half of the frame, using three-straight two-out singles to get a run home. A fourth single loaded the bases before a hit batter brought the second run of the inning home. Wahl then got a foul fly to third to end the inning with Ole Miss still on top 5-3.
Turner delivered another big hit for the Rebels in the fourth inning, coming up with a two-out single to right to drive in two runs and put Ole Miss up 7-3.
FIU got a run back in the bottom of the fifth when Rios sent one over the wall in right field to cut the Rebel lead to 7-4.
Ole Miss added a single run in the sixth inning on an RBI single from Sikes Orvis that drove in Turner before putting a ninth run across the plate in the eighth when Will Allen delivered a sac fly to right field to score Bousfield and put the Rebels on top 9-4.
The Panthers cut into that lead with one swing in the eighth as Josh Anderson belted a three-run, two-out shot over the wall in left center to trim the lead to 9-7. Zach Sweety and Rios scored on the play after reaching on a walk and a single to spark the two-out rally.
Anderson came through again for the Rebels in the ninth, hitting a two-out fly ball to shallow right field that dropped in and scored Mistone and Jamison. Mistone singled and Jamison walked to reach before advancing on a ground ball to second from Mathis. The Anderson hit put Ole Miss on top 11-7.
Florida International continued to cut into the lead in the bottom of the ninth, using a pair of solo home runs to cut the lead to 11-9. Ole Miss was able to close things out, though, and hang on for the win with a pair of groundouts following the second home run in the inning.
The Rebels and Panthers will face-off in the second game of the series at 3 p.m. CT on Saturday afternoon at the FIU Baseball Stadium.
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