Closing It Out

Chris Ellis

It was a tough night, at least early, for Missouri starter John Miles. And it wasn't supposed to have been. Only minutes before the game he wasn't scheduled to start at all.


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Tiger right-handed ace Brett Graves was hit by an errant throw in warmups and was scratched from the lineup. Miles entered the picture. The Ole Miss bats welcomed him to Oxford.

After Chris Ellis wandered a bit through a tough top of the first inning but allowed no runs, Ole Miss hit two home runs in the bottom of the first and never relinquished the lead in a 4-3 victory.

The Rebels are now 8-1 in one-run wins, the lone loss last weekend at South Carolina.

Ole Miss improved to 19-4 overall and 2-2 in Southeastern Conference play. The Tigers are 11-10 and 1-3.

Austin Anderson with a two-run shot to right field and Sikes Orvis with a solo shot in the same direction provided the opening-inning firepower for the Rebels on their way to victory.

Miles actually settled in and had a solid showing after the first, allowing just one more run and getting into the bottom of the eighth. After an out and nobody on, he was relieved by left-hander Austin Tribby.

Miles, 2-2 with the loss, wound up with only the four runs on eight hits with five strikeouts and one walk.

Ellis, 4-0 with the win, pitched well through four but found the going rough in the fifth. Two were in scoring position before he got two fly ball outs, one in shallow foul territory left and another in shallow foul territory right.

After a ball in the dirt got past Allen and to the backstop, allowing a run to score, Ellis got a fly ball to center field to end the threat.

Ellis managed to get through one out in the top of the eighth before giving way to Wyatt Short. The final line on Ellis' night was 7.1 with five hits, one run but unearned, with five strikeouts and two walks.

"I thought it was his best outing in maybe three or four weeks," Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said. "Good command with all of his pitches. Got ahead of a lot of hitters. I think he got a little frustrated at times not being able to finish some guys off, but that's OK. He really took control."

Ellis said three runs in the bottom of the first by his offense helped as the game moved on.

"I struggled a little early throwing strikes, and the defense made some good plays behind me to get out of a jam," he said. "I got a little tired at the end. You get used to being a starter after a while. You pitch and then you look up and it's the sixth."


Sikes Orvis congratulated by Holt Perdzock
File Photo

Short's stay didn't last long as he allowed two doubles and a run and left the game. Preston Tarkington came in with a Tiger on second base and the Rebels' lead in jeopardy.

Shane Segovia, the first batter Tarkington faced, single to center field to get another run home and it was 4-3, still with just one out.

And out came Tarkington. In came Josh Laxer.

Bianco did not want to go to Laxer that soon.

"He had pitched on Wednesday for an inning," he said. "With a 4-1 lead, we were hoping to extend the lead. And also we looked like we were in pretty good control of it. But it can spiral out very quickly. Three hitters later the winning run is coming to the plate. So we went with him with an out in the eighth. You can't do much better than what he did."

Dylan Kelly struckout swinging, pinch runner Jordan Getzelman was thrown out trying to steal, and the inning ended with the Rebels leading, but only by one.

Then in the ninth, Laxer gave up a two-out single but got a strikeout to end the game.

Bianco said Miles pitched effectively, especially after the first inning.

"I thought he started to really mix well," he said. "I thought he was able to get more of his off-speed, his changeup and his slider into the strike zone, which always makes it tougher on the hitters."

Bianco said the change in starters wasn't that big of a situation for his team, even though it happened right before the game began.

"We have all the reports on all of them, so we just had to make an adjustment and told the hitters ‘Remember that meeting we had an hour and a half ago? Save that for maybe later in the weekend.' They're smart enough to handle that."

There is a chance Graves could pitch sometime this weekend.

Along with Anderson who had two hits, Braxton Lee was the only other Rebel in the game with multiple hits. He had two as well.

Lee, who struggled earlier this season, continues to pick up his hitting pace. His 2-for-4 night followed the last three games where he's been getting aboard via hits. In the last four games, he's 7-for-14.

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