DELAND, Fla. (Ole Miss Athletics) – Preston Overbey hit a pair of home runs, while Sam Smith anchored another solid outing from the Rebels pitching staff as Ole Miss (3-0) defeated Stetson (0-3) by a score of 8-2 to pick up a sweep of the weekend series.
Will Allen continued his hot streak at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a two-run home run and four RBI to help pace the Ole Miss offense in the sweep-clinching win.
Smith (1-0) worked 5.0 scoreless innings, allowing two hits with three walks and two strikeouts in the start. Three other pitchers saw action for the Rebels with Matt Denny, Cheyne Bickel and Aaron Greenwood all taking the mound down the stretch to close things out.
Josh Powers (0-1) took the loss for Stetson, giving up three runs on nine hits with three strikeouts. Two of the three runs were earned against Powers in his 5.0 innings of work.
“This was a great weekend for us to start the season,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “We didn’t play as cleanly today, but sometimes you won’t play well and still have to find a way to win. We weren’t as efficiently offensively, but we were aggressive and that happens sometimes.
“We challenged our pitchers today with some errors and more walks than we’re used to, but we made some big pitches to get out of some jams,” Bianco said. “We’ll be glad to get home to Swayze Field and play some home games for a while.”
Stetson got an opportunity in the second inning when a single and a two-out double put two men in scoring position for the Hatters. Smith coaxed a ground ball to short out of the next batter, ending the rally attempt for the home team and keeping things scoreless.
The Rebels responded in the third, pushing two runs across the plate to get on the board and take the lead for the third straight day. Stetson hit Braxton Lee with a pitch before Auston Bousfield lay down a bunt single to put two men on base. A sac bunt from Austin Anderson pushed them both into scoring position before back-to-back singles from Will Allen and Sikes Orvis brought them home.
The Hatters looked to answer in the home half of the inning, sandwiching a single between a pair of walks to load the bases out of the gates. Smith responded on the mound, striking out the next batter and getting a double play ball on a grounder to second to squelch the rally and keep Ole Miss in front 2-0.
The Rebels extended the lead in the fifth inning when Allen hit a sac fly to center to score Bousfield from third. Bousfield opened the inning with a fly ball to left that was dropped by the fielder, allowing him to go to second. A ground ball to first from Anderson moved Bousfield to third before the Allen fly ball brought him home and put Ole Miss up 3-0.
Overbey took the lead out to four runs with a leadoff home run to open the sixth inning. He then came back and opened the eighth inning with his second home run of the afternoon to take the Rebel lead out to 5-0.
Stetson got things going in the bottom of the eighth, using a walk and a double to the wall in right field to put two men in scoring position. Patrick Mazeika then hit a ground ball to first and the Rebels traded the out for a run as the Hatters got on the board. Kurt Schluter then delivered a sacrifice fly to right field to bring a second run home and cut the lead to 5-2 in favor of the Rebels.
A triple to the wall in right from Bousfield put a man on with one out in the ninth before a wild pitch brought the junior outfielder home. Anderson then singled up the middle before Allen hit a two-run shot to center field to take the lead out to 8-2.
The Hatters looked to mount a second rally in the bottom of the ninth, but after the first two batters reached base, Greenwood and the defense shut things down from there to give the Rebels the win and the series sweep.
Ole Miss will return to action on Wednesday, playing the first home game of the season against UT-Martin at 4 p.m. at Swayze Field.