COLUMBIA, S.C. (Ole Miss Athletics) – Auston Bousfield hit his first grand slam with a two-out shot in the sixth inning to propel the Rebels into the lead as No. 12 Ole Miss (17-2, 1-0 SEC) defeated No. 1 South Carolina (16-1, 0-1 SEC) in the opening game of the weekend series Friday night.
The loss marked the first defeat of the season for the top-ranked Gamecocks and sets up a big Saturday doubleheader between the two teams after impending weather forced a change in the weekend schedule. The teams will take the field for a 2 p.m. CT first pitch in game one of the double dip.
Chris Ellis (3-0) picked up the win, working 5.1 innings and allowing four runs – three of them earned – on 10 hits with three walks and a strikeout. Josh Laxer picked up his first save of the season, working the final two outs to close the game out for the Rebels.
Jordan Montgomery (3-1) took the loss for the Gamecocks, allowing six runs on six hits with three walks and five strikeouts.
“Friday night in the SEC is always so close,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “It’s about which guy can get the big hit or which guy can make that one pitch. (Auston) Bousfield got that hit for us tonight.
“Chris (Ellis) really weathered the storm for us,” Bianco said. “We made it hard on him defensively. He really hung in there and took some body blows like a prize fighter. The bullpen then took over and was terrific tonight. (Aaron) Greenwood was solid when he came in and then Wyatt (Short) faced the heart of their lineup. Laxer was just great closing things out for us.”
Ole Miss got on the board in the first inning when Will Allen sent a two-out single up the middle to score Auston Bousfield from third. Bousfield opened the game with a single to center before back-to-back groundouts moved him to third for the Allen hit.
South Carolina wasted no time tying things up, using a Max Schrock solo home run with one out in the bottom of the inning to knot the game at 1-1. The Gamecocks would go on to load the bases, but Ellis responded with a big strikeout looking to leave three stranded and keep the game tied.
The Gamecocks took the lead in the fourth when Schrock drove in Tanner English from third. With one out and men at the corners, Schrock sent a ball back up the middle that glanced off the glove of Ellis toward shortstop, allowing all runners to advance safely. The lead continued to grow from there.
A walk then loaded the bases before a throwing error on a ground ball to second and a sac fly to center brought two more runs home, taking the lead out to 4-1 in favor of the Gamecocks after four innings of play.
Austin Anderson cut the lead in half with a two-out shot over the right field fence in the fifth. It was the first home run of the season for Anderson.
The Rebels continued to fight back, taking the lead back in the sixth inning on a grand slam from Bousfield. Ole Miss loaded the bases when pinch hitter Colby Bortles drew a walk, keeping the inning alive and bringing Bousfield at the plate for the shot that launched the Rebels back on top 6-4.
Ole Miss’ bullpen then kept the Gamecocks off the board the rest of the way, securing the series-opening win for the Rebels.