OXFORD, Miss. (WCBI/Ole Miss Athletics) – Sophomore Austin Knight got one at bat on Saturday afternoon and made the most of it, delivering a walk-off single to left center with two outs in the ninth to give No. 8 Ole Miss (6-0) a 1-0 win over Rhode Island (0-5) and clinch the series for the Rebels.
With two outs and two men in scoring position following a double steal, a pinch-hitting Knight connected with a full count offering and sent it deep to the gap in left center to drive in pinch-runner Cameron Dishon and give Ole Miss the 1-0 victory.
The Rebels got two men on to start the inning, but a pop out on a sac bunt attempt and a caught stealing erased both base runners and put two outs on the board. Will Allen then drew a walk and was replaced on the base path by Dishon before Andrew Mistone delivered a single to left field to put two men on base. Knight then entered the game to hit for Will Jamison and delivered the two-out hit that gave the Rebels the win.
It was one of only five hits on the afternoon for the Rebels, but came right when the team needed one to pick up the win and clinch the second straight series win for Ole Miss.
“I think it’s what makes our sport so special, that we could come out and look so good offensively Friday night and then today, their guy (Sean) Furney really just handled us,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “He pitched so well. Mike Mayers was terrific today, much better than last week. There is still more in his tank, for sure. Today he showed the command with the fast ball that we know he has. He threw a lot of good change ups today, which kept some of those left handers off balance. (Matt) Denny did a good job of coming in and giving us several outs.
“One of the keys to winning these games and being a special team is being able to make pitches when the game is on the line. Denny did that, and of course (Tanner) Bailey, (Brett) Huber and Mike (Mayers). Today was a great day, and for Austin (Knight) to come up and get a big hit. I’m proud of him. It couldn’t happen to a better kid. “
Brett Huber (1-0) picked up the relief win after entering the game in the top of the ninth with one out and two men on base. Huber got a fly out to left and fanned the second batter faced to keep Rhode Island off the board and give the Rebels the chance for the walk-off win.
Mike Mayers worked 6.0 scoreless innings in the start, allowing only two hits with three walks and four strikeouts. Matt Denny and Tanner Bailey also saw action to get the Rebels into the ninth after Mayers left the game.
Ty Sterner (0-1) suffered the loss in relief for the Rams, allowing the one run on two hits with a walk in 0.2 innings of work. He entered the game with one out in the ninth to relieve starter Sean Furney. Furney worked 8.0 scoreless innings with a walk and seven strikeouts while allowing on three hits.
The two teams will face off in the series finale at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday afternoon at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field.