OXFORD, Miss. – The Rebels used the long ball to get ahead of Memphis early on Tuesday, belting out four home runs including a grand slam from Cody Overbeck, then No. 11 Ole Miss (5-1) held on down the stretch to defeat Memphis (0-1) by a score of 12-9.
Overbeck hit a grand slam in the first inning and followed it up with a solo shot in the second to push Ole Miss to an early 11-3 lead on the Tigers. The Rebels then used five pitchers to hold on down the stretch to earn the win over Memphis.
Nathan Baker (1-0) earned the win in his first collegiate start as he worked 5.0 innings giving up five runs, four of them earned, walking two batters and striking out one. Scott Bittle picked up his second save of the season as he came in with two outs in the ninth, runners at first and second and the tying run at the plate. He got Norrid to fly out to center field to end the game.
Overbeck led the Rebels at the plate with a 2-for-4 performance as he tallied five RBI and scored two runs. Logan Power also came up big as he went 1-for-2 with three RBI and two runs score. Power also drew a walk and was hit by a pitch.
“(The hitting and scoring) was certainly a change from the first give games of the season, and we needed every one of them,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “I alluded to it after our Sunday game with Evansville that I thought we were swinging the bat better and had a chance to get some extra base hits and hit some home runs. We saw that today with some well hit balls.”
Memphis struck first as Peterson doubled down the right field line in the second at bat to score Chalmers from first. Chalmers walked to lead-off the inning. The Tigers added a second run when Moss singled to short and then advanced to second on a wild throw from short to first. The throw allowed Peterson to score from second. Moss advanced to third on a fly out to center field from Adam Amar before scoring a batter later when Joseph Lieberman grounded out to first. Baker struck out the final batter to end the inning with Tigers up 3-0.
The Rebels struck back in the bottom half of the frame when Fuller Smith hit a two-run shot 409 feet to right field. The home run scored he and Cozart, who reached on a bunt single a batter earlier. Ole Miss then loaded the bases with one out as Clark reached on a fielding error at first and advanced to second on a single through the right side from Ketchum. Logan Power was then hit by a pitch to load the bases. The Rebels then added four more runs as Cody Overbeck sent a shot over the wall in left center for his first grand slam of the season.
The Rebels added five more runs in the second inning as Fuller Smith scored from second on a single through the right side from Ketchum. Smith reached on a single and advanced to second on a single from Clark. Power then hit a three-run home run to clear the bases before Overbeck hit his second home run, a solo shot to left field, to put Ole Miss up 11-3 after two innings.
Memphis got a run back in the third with a two-out double down the left field line to score Amar from second. Amar reached on a single and advanced to second on a double play grounder to third.
Memphis again cut into the Rebel lead as Kyle Norrid hit a solo home run to open the fourth inning, cutting the lead to 11-5.
The Tigers used two runs in the seventh to cut into the Rebel lead more, trimming the lead to four runs at 11-7.
Ole Miss scored again in the bottom half of the frame, using a single to left from Justin Henry to drive in his brother, Jordan, from third. Jordan Henry reached on a single and then moved to third on a single to center from pinch hitter Kyle Mills.
Memphis cut into the lead again as the Tigers answered in the eighth inning with a pair of runs on a single up the middle from Will Peterson, cutting the Rebel lead to three at 12-9.
Craig Rodriguez and Bittle entered the game in the eighth and ninth, slowing down the Tigers and helped seal the win for the Rebels. Also pitching for the Rebels down the stretch were Phillip Irwin and Jesse Simpson.
Ole Miss will return to action this weekend when the Rebels will play host to Wright State in a three-game series. First pitch for Friday’s game is set for 3 p.m. as the Raiders and Ole Miss open the series at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field.