"“Today was one of those grind it out games,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco after his team improved to 7-0 on the season. “(URI Coach) Jim (Foster) does such a great job with that program. They play hard and they play the game right. They were in every game all weekend. I’m proud of our guys.”
Ole Miss had taken game one 8-1 Friday and followed that up with a 1-0 win Saturday.
So far this season, the Rebels have been able to find a way to win every game they’ve played. And those wins have come in all sorts of way.
Sam Smith started in place of Chris Ellis in this one. Both sophomore rightys, Ellis had started last Sunday but was battling an abdomen muscle pull. They are simply letting it heal now as conference play is only a couple of weekends away.
“It bothered him at the end of last Sunday,” Bianco said of Ellis’ situation. “As we went on this week, we just didn’t feel comfortable running him back out there. It’s getting better. If we pushed him this weekend and it got worse, where would we go from there? He’s doing some rest and rehab and getting better.”
The Rebels opened up a nice lead in the bottom of the first inning after Smith allowed no damage.
Austin Anderson’s base hit was rewarded with a sac fly by Stuart Turner after Anderson had advanced to third. That put Ole Miss up 1-0.
Then Will Allen homered to left to also drive in Auston Bousfield who had singled. It was 3-0 Ole Miss and that’s the way the first inning ended.
“It’s always great to start off with some runs to support your pitcher,” said Allen, whose home run was his first of the season. “It was 3-0 and I got the green light. I took a hack, and luckily things worked out.”
Each team got a run in the second, and Ole Miss added a run in the third on an Andrew Mistone fly ball that scored Turner who had reached on a single. That made it 5-1 Rebels.
But this one wasn’t over and the Rams crept back into it. Smith, who went 3.1 innings and allowed 5 hits, with 3 strike outs and 3 walks, had been replaced by reliever Aaron Greenwood. In the seventh, the Rams chased Greenwood after he’d only allowed a run on three hits with a strikeout.
Greenwood, who got the win, went three innings, allowing only one run on three hits with a strikeout.
Jeremy Massie came in with Ole Miss up 5-3 with one out and a runner on. Then another Ram was aboard after the Rebels misfielded a bunt situation, putting runners on first and second.
But two outs later, the score remained 5-3 at stretch time as Massie got a popup and a groundout.
Tanner Bailey cleaned up the eighth, entering with two outs, facing just one batter for an out. Brett Huber got his third save of the season facing the minimum in the ninth.
“I thought our pitchers did a great job all weekend,” Bianco said.
Bianco also said he was pleased with how his team played Sunday against a quality program.
“I’m much happier today than I was the previous two days,” he said. “It’s nice to win, but the players know it’s about playing well. We didn’t play well on Friday but we hit well. Saturday we pitched well and didn’t hit very well. I feel a lot better today. We knew (Rhode Island) would play like they did today.”
But it wasn’t over until Huber came in and took care of the Rams in the last inning.
“It was an all-around good game by both teams,” Bianco said. “We just did a couple of more things than they did today, and that was the difference in the game.”
So far this season, that’s the way it’s been every game for the Rebels.
Ole Miss has two midweek games this week, hosting Memphis Tuesday at 4 p.m. and Arkansas-Pine Bluff Wednesday at 4 p.m.