LEXINGTON, Ky. – Two-out hitting proved to be the difference for the Rebels on Saturday as No. 10 Ole Miss (21-9, 6-5 SEC) scored eight runs with two outs on the afternoon to defeat No. 1 Kentucky (29-3, 8-3 SEC) by a score of 9-3.
The loss snapped a 21-game home win streak for the Wildcats and evened the weekend series at a game each after Kentucky claimed the series opener 3-2 with an eighth-inning rally on Friday.
Mike Mayers (3-2) picked up the win in his first Saturday start, working 7.1 innings and allowing only three runs on eight hits with a walk and a strikeout. Mayers was originally slated to start on Sunday but moved into the starting role when the team got to the ballpark.
Senior right-hander R.J. Hively, who was slated to start Saturday’s game, is expected to start the Sunday contest.
“We had a lot of two-out hits and clutch hits today that we didn’t get last night,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “What broke the ice for us was (Andrew) Mistone came up with the double to open the fifth. Then we got the single from Blake and things just started going. Matt Snyder really broke things open for us.
“I was impressed with Mike (Mayers) today,” Bianco said. “He never flinched when we told him he was going to get the start today and as a coach, you have to feel good about that.”
Ole Miss scored first on Saturday when Mistone came home from third on a wild pitch. Mistone opened the fifth inning with a double laced down the third base line. He then moved to third on a sac bunt from Zach Kirksey before scoring on the wild pitch on the first pitch to Blake Newalu.
The Rebels kept things going with a single from Newalu and a Mathis walk before Kentucky would notch its second out with a strikeout of Bousfield. A double steal put both runners in scoring position and the Wildcats elected to intentionally walk Alex Yarbrough and bring Matt Snyder to the plate. The left-handed hitter then hit a 2-2 count over the wall in right field to clear the bases and put Ole Miss on top 5-0.
Back-to-back singles from Will Allen and Preston Overbey put two more men on base, and both scored a batter later when Mistone came up for the second time in the inning and doubled off the wall in right field. The Rebels led 8-0 after the fifth.
Snyder extended the lead in the sixth inning, hitting his second home run of the day with a solo shot to left center that put Ole Miss on top 9-0.
Kentucky answered in the bottom of the sixth when Thomas McCarthy hit a solo shot over the wall in left center with two outs. The Wildcats couldn’t get any more runs as the Rebels led 9-1 after six innings of play.
The Wildcats cut into the lead again in the eighth inning when A.J. Reed hit a two-run shot to right field to make it 9-3 in favor of the Rebels. McCarthy scored on the play after notching a one-out double in the previous at bat. Ole Miss then turned to the bullpen for right-hander Chris Ellis.
Ellis was able to keep the Wildcats off the board in the ninth as the Rebels got a pair of nice snags on fly balls to left field, including a sliding one that saw Mathis glide under the ball, before a strikeout ended things to give Ole Miss the 9-3 win.
The Rebels and Wildcats will play the final game of the series at noon CT on Sunday at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
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