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Ole Miss rallies in ninth to beat Tennessee, give Bianco 600th victory

 

From Special Reports

 

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The No. 21 University of Mississippi baseball team pulled out the rally caps Sunday and executed to perfection in a three-run ninth inning that helped it defeat the University of Tennessee 4-3. 

 

The victory helped Ole Miss (29-12, 10-8 Southeastern Conference) complete a three-game sweep of the weekend series. It also gave coach Mike Bianco his 500th victory as coach at Ole Miss, and his 600th victory as a head coach. 

 

Trailing by two runs entering the ninth, the Rebels rallied with clutch performances from the heart of the batting order and some key efforts off the bench. 

 

"It was a solid effort throughout the lineup," Bianco said. "It's nice to come back and get the win with a rally like that, but it all started with some great at bats by several 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. (Zack) Godley was really solid for them on the mound. 

 

"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. 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." 

 

Stuart Turner and Andrew Mistone started things off with a double and a walk before the Rebels turned to the bench. Pinch runner Cameron Dishon replaced Turner at second and Christian Helsel stepped to the plate as a pinch hitter. Helsel laid down a perfect bunt in a sacrifice attempt, but the pitcher threw the ball away at third base trying to record an out of Dishon. The speedy freshman scampered home to score, while Mistone and Helsel went to second and third. 

 

A groundout to short from Preston Overbey brought Mistone home to tie the game and moved Helsel to third. Ole Miss then took the lead when Will Allen drove a ball deep to right center to score Helsel. 

 

Tanner Bailey (3-1) picked up the victory, allowing one run on two hits in 1 1/3 innings. He was one of four Rebel pitchers to see action. Brett Huber picked up his 10th save with a perfect ninth. 

 

Zack Godley (3-5) took the loss for the Volunteers (17-21, 5-13). The right-hander allowed four runs (one earned) in a complete-game performance. He allowed six hits and two walks. He struck out seven. 

 

It marks the second straight series sweep for Ole Miss, which also swept the University of Alabama 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 with a sacrifice fly to center from Christin Stewart. 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. Right-hander Chris Ellis got the second out on the sacrifice 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 keep the game tied. 

 

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 Volunteers 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 lead-off single, a passed ball and a groundout. It wasn't to be, 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 the Volunteers leading 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 will play at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Arkansas State University.

 

 

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