KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Leadoff home runs in back-to-back innings provided the spark the Rebels needed on Saturday as No. 17 Ole Miss (28-12, 9-8 SEC) rallied to defeat Tennessee (17-20, 5-12 SEC) with a 6-4 win.
The win gave the Rebels the weekend series as Will Jamison and Sikes Orvis hit lead off home runs in the seventh and eighth as Ole Miss rallied for the win. Jamison’s solo shot in the seventh, the first of his career, tied the game at three before Orvis would put the Rebels in front for good with his solo shot to open the eighth.
Jamison helped pace the Rebel offense with an RBI-triple to go along with his game-tying home run as the sophomore outfielder went 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. He was one of five players with multiple-hits on the afternoon for Ole Miss.
Matt Denny (1-0) picked up the relief win, striking out Will Maddox in the seventh to end the inning and keep the game tied at three before Orvis would hit his go-ahead home run to start the next inning. Denny entered the game with two outs on the board and two on base in a 3-3 game in the seventh.
Brett Huber then picked up his ninth save of the season, closing out the ninth inning to preserve the win.
“I’m really proud of the team today for hanging in there and continuing to battle throughout the game,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “You need everyone in the SEC to win games and that proved out today as our nine-hole hitter essentially won the game for us with an RBI triple and a home run.
“I’m really proud of our guys on the mound today,” Bianco said. “Mike Mayers did what we needed from him and continued to battle even though he could have hung his head a little. The other guys came out of the bullpen and made pitches when we needed them and gave us the chance to take the lead and grab the win.”
Tennessee struck first on Saturday, using back-to-back hits from Ethan Bennett and Vance Vizcaino to take the 1-0 lead. Bennett turned in a one-out double to left before coming home on a single up the middle from Vizcaino. The Rebels got the next two batters to fly out, ending the inning with Tennessee on top by one.
The Vols added to the lead in the fourth inning when a wild pitch combined with a throwing error trying to get the runner at third brought a run home. Christin Stewart drew a leadoff walk and took second on a groundout to setup the wild play that allowed him to come home. With two outs on the board, he took off on a wild pitch and slid in at third. With the throw off the mark, Stewart then got up and came home to give Tennessee the 2-0 lead.
The Rebels answered in the fifth, bringing home two quick runs to knot the game at two. Christian Helsel beat out an infield single to deep short to start the inning off before scoring on an RBI triple to right center. Jamison then scored on a sac fly to left from Tanner Mathis as Ole Miss evened the score. The Rebels would get nothing more across as Tennessee got out of the inning, but Ole Miss was on the board.
Tennessee moved back in front in the sixth when Stewart delivered a double to right to bring home Will Maddox from second. Maddox reached on a single up the middle and moved to second on a balk to set up the RBI hit from Stewart that put the Vols on top 3-2.
Jamison quickly erased the deficit in the top of the seventh, hitting his first career home run to the right of the batter’s eye to even the score at three.
Orvis then put the Rebels on top with a leadoff home run in the eighth that went to the same spot as Jamison’s an inning before. Ole Miss could get nothing more going, but held the 4-3 lead after the top of the eighth.
The Rebels built on the lead in the ninth, adding two runs on RBI singles from Turner and Orvis to take the lead out to 6-3. Mistone doubled with one out to start the rally before a walk of Auston Bousfield put two men on. Turner then singled to left to bring home Mistone and keep men at the corners. Orvis then singled up the middle in the next at bat to bring home Bousfield and the Rebels had a 6-3 lead.
Tennessee then turned a double play to get out of the inning, but Ole Miss held the three-run advantage heading to the bottom of the ninth.
The Vols weren’t done, however, getting a solo home run with one out from designated hitter Andrew Lee to cut into the Rebel advantage. Jason Manis then drew a walk and stole second to put a man in scoring position before Huber would strike out the next two batters to end the game.
Ole Miss and Tennessee will conclude the series at 1 p.m. CT on Sunday at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. The game will be televised nationally by ESPNU.
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