Ole Miss sweeps season series from USM

Ole Miss sweeps season series from USM

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - University of Southern Mississippi junior right-hander Taylor Braley turned in one of the better performances of his pitching career Tuesday night against the University of Mississippi at Taylor Park.

The issue for the 16th-ranked Golden Eagles: Ole Miss freshman right-hander Greer Holston was even better.

With Braley and Holston hooked up in an old-fashioned pitching duel, the difference came down to the Rebels' ability to strike for extra-base hits as they pulled away to a 6-2 victory over the Golden Eagles before 5,458, the third-largest home baseball crowd in USM history.

It was the second time in eight days that the Golden Eagles (26-8) lost to Ole Miss (21-12), as the Rebels swept the two-game season series by winning for the first time in Hattiesburg since 2009.

"We've had some tough nights down here, so it's nice to win," Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. "I think the guys were ready to play (Tuesday night), and they played some really good baseball.

"Southern Miss is a really good team, and are going to have a great year, so I think it only shows with what we've done over the last eight days that we're playing much better than we were."

While the Rebels won their fifth consecutive game, the Golden Eagles dropped their second in a row and their third in their last five games.

"Very similar to (Sunday's 10-4 loss to Florida International University), so we've got to take the pill to cure that," USM coach Scott Berry said. "Friday, we've got to be ready to go against a Rice (University) club that I know is better than its record.

"So, we've got to learn from it, just like I was hoping we'd learn from (the FIU game). But now, we really have to learn from it because we got a double dose."

What USM got Tuesday was a double-barrel of Holston, who had surrendered four runs in 4 2/3 innings in the first Golden Eagles-Rebels meeting April 4 at Trustmark Park in Pearl.

Tuesday, Holston (1-2) picked up his first collegiate win, throwing six scoreless innings and allowing just two singles while striking out four. He walked three and hit Matt Wallner twice in the game, but retired 12 of the last 14 batters he faced and did not allow a baserunner past first after the second inning.

"We didn't hit because Holston did a great job commanding his breaking ball and had enough on his fastball to get in there on us," Berry said. "We did not have that sense of urgency early in the game to pressure them."

What the Golden Eagles had was Braley (3-1), who scattered six hits and two walks over 6 2/3 innings, allowing three runs (two earned). He struck out a career-high 12, as he and three other Golden Eagles combined for a season-high 16 strikeouts in a single game.

"I'm proud of him," Berry said.

The difference was when the Rebels did manage to make contact, the baseball went deep into parts of the outfield. Half of the hits Braley surrendered went for doubles, and of Ole Miss' eight hits on the evening, five went for extra bases, including four doubles and a home run.

But also for a second consecutive game, the Golden Eagles did themselves no favors in the field, with two errors making have of the Rebels' runs unearned.

Ole Miss took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Ryan Olenek doubled and came around to score on a strikeout-wild pitch.

The Rebels made it 2-0 in the fourth inning, when Colby Bortles walked on four pitches, moved to second on Olenek's second, consecutive double and scored on Nick Fortes' big chopper to third.

Ole Miss tacked on another run in the seventh when USM second baseman Storme Cooper couldn't handle a two-out, scorched grounder off Will Golsan's bat, allowing Cole Zaboswki to add an unearned run.

USM reliever Colt Smith opened the eighth inning by walking Bortles, and then after a pair of strikeouts, allowed a two-out, RBI-double to Nick Fortes to give Ole Miss a 4-0 lead.

The Rebels scored its final two runs in the ninth, and again, both came with two outs, and again, both were unearned.

Alex Nelms got the first two outs of the inning before being lifted. Trent Driver came in and got an infield popup that should have ended the inning, but was dropped by shortstop LeeMarcus Boyd.

Golsan then took Driver's next pitch over the left-center field wall for a 6-0 lead.

The Rebels returned the favor in the bottom of the inning, committing two errors, as the Golden Eagles mixed in two hits and a walk off Ole Miss reliever Brady Feigl to score twice.

But Feigl, who pitched the final three innings to earn his third save, struck out Mason Irby to end the game.

Burdeaux extended his hitting streak to 11 games with two singles. Wallner saw a team-high hitting streak snapped at 12 games, while Braley's nine-game hitting streak came to an end.

Olenek and Fortes each had two hits for the Rebels, while Fortes and Golsan drove in two runs each.

The Golden Eagles will head to Houston, Texas, for a three-game Conference USA series with Rice, starting at 6 p.m. Friday at Reckling Park.

The Rebels stay on the road, heading to Baton Rouge, La., for a three-game Southeastern Conference series with Louisiana State University.