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Ole Miss baseball wins share of SEC West title; Southern Miss pounds Marshall

 

 

 

From Special Reports 

 

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - One day after being shutout for the first time all season, No. 4 Ole Miss baseball exploded for 10 runs on 12 hits to take down Alabama, 10-8, and in the process, win the SEC West Division title on the final day of regular season play. 

 

The Rebels finished SEC play with an 18-12 record and secured the No. 2 seed in the upcoming SEC Tournament. Ole Miss' 42 victories also set a program record for most regular season wins in school history. 

 

Ole Miss grabbed an early 2-0 lead in the first inning when Cole Zabowski took the first pitch he saw and doubled to left center to score Nick Fortes and Thomas Dillard. 

 

It was just the beginning of Zabowski's monster day as the sophomore from Lawrenceville, Georgia, finished the day 4-for-5 and a career-high six RBI. Zabowski was just a triple short of hitting for the cycle. 

 

Alabama would use a solo home run in the first and then another solo bomb in the second to tie the game at 2-2. 

 

Ole Miss would grab the lead back the next inning as the Rebels strung several hits together to have a big fourth inning. Fortes worked a one-out walk and would come around to score after a wild pitch and a Dillard double. Zabowski gave Ole Miss a 5-2 lead as he sent a ball over the right field wall for his ninth home run of the season. 

 

The third inning hit parade continued for Ole Miss as Will Golsan singled and then scored on a single from Tyler Kennan. The Rebels would have to wait out a two-hour rain delay before finishing the third inning and game. 

 

With Ole Miss leading 6-2 after the delay, Will Ethridge came on in relief for Rebel starter James McArthur. South Carolina loaded the bases with just one out, but Ethridge got a strikeout and fly out to limit the damage to just two runs. 

 

Fortes once again provide some insurance for Ole Miss in the sixth inning as he singled through the left side to score Jacob Adams. Adams was one of three Rebels to tally multiple hits in the game and he finished with two runs scored. 

 

Alabama answered Ole Miss' runs with two of its own in the bottom of the sixth to pull within 7-6 and threatened the tie the game in the seventh after a leadoff walk. Ole Miss called upon the arm of Greer Holston to try and stimmy the Alabama rally. Holston would get a big 6-4-3 double play and fly out to get the Rebels out of the inning. 

 

Ole Miss closer, Parker Caracci, came into the game in the eighth to try and slam the door on Alabama. Caracci would allow two runs, but struck out two in his 1.1 innings of work to preserve the Ole Miss victory. 

 

The SEC West title is Ole Miss' first division title since it in 2014. 

 

The Rebels now turn their attention to the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Alabama. Ole Miss will have a first round bye and won't play until Wednesday, May 23 where they will face the winner of the Auburn/Kentucky game in the No. 7/10 matchup. That contest will start 30 minutes after the 9:30 a.m. game and be shown on the SEC Network. 

 

Southern Mississipp 18, Marshall 9: At Beckley, West Virginia, Southern Miss ended Saturday's regular-season baseball finale at Marshall the same way it started, with a bang. 

 

The 18th-ranked Golden Eagles sent 13 batters to the plate in both the second and ninth innings, scoring eight runs in each, as USM finished off a first-ever sweep of the Thundering Herd on its home turf with a 18-9 victory at Epling Stadium. 

 

The Golden Eagles (36-15, 22-6 Conference USA), which clinched its second consecutive regular-season C-USA championship with a win Thursday, collected a season-high 21 hits Saturday while scoring the most runs in a conference games this year. 

 

Luke Reynolds (15th), Hunter Slater (10th) and LeeMarcus Boyd (seventh) each had a home run among their three hits, while Fred Franklin also collected a trio of hits. 

 

Mason Irby, who extended his team- best hitting streak to 15 games, had two hits along with Matt Wallner and Gabe Montenegro. 

 

Wallner, who picked up his sixth save of the season Friday with one pitch, made his first start of the season Saturday and allowed five runs on seven hits over four innings. He struck out six and walked one. 

 

Keller Bradford (2-1) allowed two runs on two hits and a walk in his one inning to pick up the win. Alex Nelms, who had not pitched since April 3, picked up his first save of the season by allowing an unearned run on three hits over the final two innings. 

 

The Herd (19-31, 7-22) amassed 14 hits against five Golden Eagles' pitchers, with Erik Rodriguez going 4-for-4 with a pair of doubles. 

 

But Southern Miss jumped out early on Marshall starter Zac McNeel (1-4), with Reynolds cracking a two-run home run in the first. 

 

After Marshall scored a run in the bottom on the inning without benefit of a hit to pull within 2-1, the Golden Eagles chased McNeel from the game with a seven-hit, eight-run second inning. 

 

Boyd's three-run home run bumped the lead to 5-1 and Southern Miss added five more runs on Bryan Bowen's two-run single, RBI-singles by Wallner and Franklin and a wild pitch. 

 

Marshall pecked away during the middle innings of the game as the Golden Eagles' bats went relatively dormant.After answering Southern Miss' big inning with three runs of its own in the bottom of the second, the Herd scored a run in the fourth and two more in the sixth to pull within 10-7. 

 

Marshall added another run in the seventh and had the bases loaded with one out when reliever Cody Carroll uncorked a wild pitch. 

 

The ball caromed off the backstop, allowing Cole Donaldson _ who had replaced Bowen behind the plate at the start of the inning to tag out the runner trying to score from third base and then throw down to second base to get another Herd runner who had strayed too far off base. 

 

The inning-ending double play left Southern Miss still up two runs, and the Golden Eagles iced the game in the top of the ninth, collecting eight hits in an eight-run inning highlighted by Slater's 10th home run of the season, a three-run blast to dead center field. 

 

Franklin and Wallner hit RBI doubles and Boyd and Montenegro each had run-scoring single. Another run scored on a wild pitch. 

 

Boyd finished with a career-high four RBIs and scored twice. Reynolds had three RBIs and two runs scored and Slater had three RBIs and scored three times. Montenegro scored three times and drove in a run, while Wallner had two RBIs and two runs scored and Franklin two RBIs and a run scored. 

 

The Golden Eagles, who will sport the top seed in the conference postseason for a second consecutive year, will face the eighth seed at 4 p.m. Wednesday in the 2108 Conference USA Baseball Tournament's opening round at MGM Park in Biloxi.

 

 

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