OXFORD, Miss. (Ole Miss Athletics) – There would be no need for extra-inning heroics on Sunday as the Rebels used a four-run first inning to propel No. 24 Ole Miss (11-1) to a 9-2 victory over UCF (6-5) and a sweep of the weekend series.
Sam Smith (2-0) picked up the win for the Rebels, working 6.0 scoreless innings, allowing four hits with two walks and four strikeouts. He was one of four pitchers on the afternoon for Ole Miss.
Robby Howell (0-1) took the loss for UCF, allowing seven runs on six hits with two walks and a strikeout in 3.1 innings of work.
“It was a much better game by us,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “We talked so much about the walk-off wins and winning in extra innings, but today we played better. We were really clean defensively. Sam (Smith) was terrific as well as all the pitchers that pitched today. Offensively, we looked more like ourselves today. We were able to drive the ball to the gap and steal bases. The score reflected that.”
UCF looked to score first for the third straight game, loading the bases with one out in the first inning. Smith buckled down after giving up two of his four hits on the day and struck out the next two batters looking and get the Rebels out of the inning with no damage.
Ole Miss then answered in the home half of the first, pushing four runs home and taking the game firmly in hand.
Back-to-back singles and a hit batter loaded the bases before a sac fly from Will Allen got the first run home and left men at the corners. A wild pitch scored the second run. A walk put Sikes Orvis on base, keeping the rally going as Preston Overbey and Colby Bortles each delivered an RBI before the Knights would get out of the inning.
The Rebels would put another crooked number on the board in the fourth, bringing three runs home with RBI singles from Braxton Lee and Auston Bousfield before a sac fly from Austin Anderson took the Rebel lead out to 7-0.
Orvis scored again in the fifth inning, reaching when he was hit by a pitch to open the frame before moving around the bases to score on three wild pitches. The junior went hitless on the day, but reached base four times with three walks and the hit by pitch.
The Rebels capped the scoring for the home team in the sixth inning when pinch hitting Henri Lartigue delivered a sac fly to center to move Ole Miss on top 9-0.
UCF got on the board in the ninth, loading the bases with one out before an RBI single from Dylan Moore and a sac fly from JoMarcus Woods pushed two runs home. Scott Weathersby, who entered in relief in the ninth, struck out the final batter looking to end the game and secure the sweep.
Ole Miss will return to action on Wednesday, hosting the Memphis Tigers at Swayze Field. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m.