KNOXVILLE, Miss. - The Rebels pulled out the rally caps on Sunday and executed to perfection to apply pressure to the Volunteers as No. 17 Ole Miss (29-12, 10-8 SEC) put together a three-run ninth inning to defeat Tennessee (17-21, 5-13 SEC) by a score of 4-3.
The win completed a series sweep of the Volunteers and gave Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco his 500th win as the Rebel skipper and 600th win overall as a head coach.
Trailing by two runs heading into the ninth, the Rebels put together the rally with clutch performances from the heart of the batting order and some key at bats off the bench.
"It was a solid effort throughout the lineup today," said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. "It's nice to come back and get the win with a rally like that in the ninth inning, but it all started with some great at bats by several different guys. We really got some good swings and executed on the things we asked them to do and it put some pressure on Tennessee. Sam Smith gave us a good outing in the start and the guys out of the bullpen really battled for us today. (Zack) Godley was really solid for them on the mound for them today.
"It feels good to get the 500th win at Ole Miss, but it's really something that so many people have been a part of through the years," Bianco said. "There are so many different players and coaches over the last 13 years who have had a hand in getting to this point. It's really nice to get to this point and it wouldn't have been possible without all of those guys being a part of the program over the years."
Helsel then lay down a perfect bunt in a sacrifice attempt, but the Vols pitcher threw the ball away at third trying to record an out of Dishon. The speedy freshman then scampered home to score while Mistone and Helsel went to second and third on the play.
A groundout to short from Preston Overbey brought Mistone home to tie the game while Helsel moved to third. Ole Miss then took the lead when Will Allen drove a ball deep to right center to score Helsel and put the Rebels on top 4-3.
Tanner Bailey (3-1) picked up the relief win, allowing one run on two hits in 1.1 innings of work. He was one of four Rebel pitchers to see action on the afternoon. Brett Huber picked up his 10th save of the season, entering the game to start the ninth and retiring three straight batters to close out the game.
Tennessee starter Zack Godley (3-5) took the loss for the Vols despite a solid outing that saw the right-hander allow four runs, but only one earned, in his complete-game performance. He struck out seven while walking two and allowing six hits on the afternoon.
It marks the second straight series sweep for Ole Miss who also swept the Crimson Tide last weekend in Oxford.
Ole Miss got on the board in the fourth inning when Andrew Mistone delivered a two-out double down the first base line to bring Austin Anderson home from second. Anderson reached on a fielding error at second to open the inning and advanced on a groundout to short from Bousfield to get into scoring position for the Mistone hit that put the Rebels on top 1-0.
Tennessee erased the deficit in the sixth inning with a sac fly to center from Christin Stewart to tie the game at one. Will Maddox reached on a one-out double and moved to third on a single to left from A.J. Simcox. The Rebels then turned to the bullpen for right-hander Chris Ellis.
Ellis got the second out on the sac fly that tied the game, but the Rebels escaped the inning a batter later with a nice defensive play. Pierce Baly singled to left, but Simcox was gunned out at the plate by Mathis to end the inning and keep the game knotted at one.
The Vols moved in front in the seventh inning, putting together a two-out rally for the second straight inning. With Taylor Smart at first and two outs on the board, Tennessee sent pinch hitter Ethan Bennett to the plate. The Rebels countered with right-hander Tanner Bailey out of the bullpen, but Bennett won the battle with a double to left field to score Smart and put the Vols up 2-1 after the seventh.
The Rebels got a chance to tie the game in the top of the eighth, putting a runner at third with one out following a leadoff single, a passed ball and a groundout. It wasn't to be however as the Rebels' runner was thrown out at home on a ground ball to short and the inning ended on a failed steal attempt in the next at bat with Tennessee still up 2-1.
The edge then grew to two runs for the home team with a two-out home run in the bottom of the eighth from Stewart to take the lead out to 3-1 for the Volunteers.
Ole Miss would put together its answering rally in the ninth, plating three runs to take the lead as the Rebels used timely hits and capitalized on a throwing error to regain the lead. Huber then closed things out in the ninth, retiring three straight batters to preserve the win and the sweep.
Ole Miss will return to action on Tuesday night, closing out a six-game road trip with a contest at Arkansas State. The game with the Red Wolves will begin at 6:30 p.m.
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