GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCBI/Ole Miss Athletics) – The Rebels couldn’t get to starter Jonathon Crawford at the plate on Saturday while the Gator offense capitalized on opportunities as No. 11 Ole Miss (23-5, 4-4 SEC) felt to Florida (12-16, 3-5 SEC) by a score of 7-0 in game two of the weekend series.
Mike Mayers (2-3) took the loss for the Rebels, allowing six runs – four of them earned – on nine hits with a walk and a strikeout through 5.1 innings of work as the Gators took advantage of infield hits to build the early lead before tacking on four more runs late.
Crawford (1-4) picked up the win, working a complete game and limiting the Rebels to two hits with eight strikeouts and two walks.
“That was definitely the best outing of the season for Crawford tonight,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “We had a couple of opportunities when the game was still intact and if we could have gotten the big hit then we could have put some pressure on him, but he was too good.
“We have to come back out tomorrow and play with more energy,” Bianco said. “That’s what it’s all about in this league is your ability to bounce back. We’ve done it before this season, but we have to do it again and come out with the chance to win the series on Sunday.”
Florida struck first, putting together a rally on a pair of tough plays for the Rebels as Justin Shafer golfed a high chopper that died between the mound and third to lead off the inning for the first base hit. Vikash Ramjit then popped up a bunt with one out that came out of Mayers’ glove when he hit the ground after diving to make the catch, putting two men on base. Connor Mitchell then singled through the right side to bring a run home and put Florida on the board.
Mike Fahrman then snuck a two-RBI double down the first base line just past a lunging Orvis to push the Florida lead out to 3-0 before the Rebels would get out of the inning.
The Rebels threatened in the fourth inning, getting the two leadoff men on base before a double play and a strikeout squelched the rally attempt.
Ole Miss had another chance to cut into the lead in the sixth inning, loading the bases with two outs on a walk of Mathis, a single from Auston Bousfield and a walk of Austin Anderson. The Gators’ starter responded with a big full count pitch and struck out the Rebels’ cleanup hitter to end the threat, however, and maintain the 3-0 lead heading to the bottom of the inning.
Florida responded in the bottom of the inning with a solo home run from Harrison Bader to open the frame and take the lead out to 4-0 in favor of the home ream.
The Gators continued to build on that lead when Zack Powers singled to center to bring home Justin Shafer from second. Shafer reached on a fielding error at third on a ground ball and then took second on a fielding error at first on a pickoff attempt that had him dead to rights before the dropped ball. Powers then singled to center to bring Shafer home and advanced to second on the throw to the plate from center field.
Another single through the left side put men at the corners with one out and the Rebels turned to the bullpen for left-hander Jeremy Massie. The left-hander got a groundout for the second out, but traded a run to do it before ending the inning with another groundout and the Rebels down 6-0.
Florida pushed its final run of the day across the plate in the seventh inning when Gushue doubled down the left field line to bring home Casey Turgeon from second. Turgeon had reached on a walk before moving to second on a groundout to first and set up the RBI hit from Gushue that put the Gators up 7-0.
Ole Miss could not muster a rally down the stretch as the Gators evened the weekend series at a game each.
The Rebels and Florida will close out the series at 12 p.m. CT Sunday at McKethan Stadium. The game will be broadcast by SunSports/Fox Sports Florida.