GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- In a wild day at McKethan Stadium on Sunday, the Rebels came up with the key plays when they needed them as No. 16 Ole Miss (28-11, 11-7 SEC) defeated No. 20 Florida (26-14, 10-8 SEC) by a score of 5-3 in a game shortened by travel curfew.
The Rebels picked up the win in eight innings behind the pitching of Scott Bittle and Jake Morgan and some key at bats.
Bittle (4-2) picked up the win as he worked 6.0 innings and allowed three runs on six hits with six walks and eight strikeouts, while Morgan picked up his fifth save of the season. Morgan worked the final 2.0 innings and held the Gators to two hits with one walk and three strikeouts.
Florida starter James Panteliodis (3-5) suffered the loss as he allowed three runs on four hits with four walks and two strikeouts. The Gators used four pitchers in the game.
Kyle Henson was big for the Rebels at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a run scored and three RBI as he came up with a two-run home run in the third inning to tie the game. Jordan Henry went 1-for-1 at the plate, but drew four walks on the afternoon and scored two runs. Henry also stole three bases on the afternoon as the Rebels stole six bases.
“We just ground it out today,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “Bittle struggled a bit early but he was close on his pitches. Then he settled in and really took control of the game. We got some key hits from there. Kyle (Henson) was tremendous and came up with the key home run and the hit to extend the lead. And then you look at Jordan Henry with all his walks and stolen bases today."
Florida struck first, scoring in the bottom of the first inning on a single through the left side from Adams that drove in Daniel Pigott from second. Pigott walked and then moved to second on a walk of Avery Barnes. A walk then loaded the bases before another walk pushed a second run across the plate for the Gators as Florida took a 2-0 lead on the Rebels. Bittle then got Hampton Tignor to fly out to end the inning with the home team leading by two runs.
Ole Miss tied things in the third when Kyle Henson hit a two-run home run to left center to tie the game. Jordan Henry walked in the previous at bat to get on base for the Henson hit that evened he score at two.
The Rebels took the lead in the fifth when Henry scored on a wild pitch from reliever Greg Larson. Henry walked to reach base - his third walk of the game - before stealing second. He then moved to third on a sacrifice bunt from Henson before scoring on the wild pitch. Logan Power, who was intentionally walked, moved to second on the wild pitch and then scored a batter later on a single from Zach Miller that escaped the grasp of a sprinting Josh Adams at second as Ole Miss took a 4-2 lead.
Florida rallied in the bottom half of the inning with two outs on the board. With men at first and second, Adams came up with his third hit of the day to push a run across and leave men at the corners with two outs and the Rebels holding to a 4-3 lead. Bittle struck out Brandon McArthur in the next at bat, however, to end the rally and keep Ole Miss in the lead.
The Rebels got the run back in the sixth when Tim Ferguson scored on an single to left from Henson. Ferguson singled and then stole second before Henry drew his fourth walk of the afternoon to bring Henson to the plate. Henson then came up with the RBI single to give the Rebels the 5-3 lead which would prove to be the final margin of victory.
Morgan then held the Gators off the board in the seventh and eighth as the Rebels claimed the win.
Ole Miss will return to action on Tuesday when the Rebels host UALR at 6:30 p.m. at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field.