UNIVERSITY PARK, Fla. – It was an opportunistic offense combined with a solid outing from starter Mike Mayers that pulled the Rebels through on Saturday, scoring eight runs on 10 hits as No. 8 Ole Miss (10-1) defeated Florida International (7-4) by a score of 8-3.
The win clinched the weekend series for the Rebels and set up an opportunity for a third consecutive weekend sweep with the series finale at 11 a.m. CT on Sunday.
Mayers (1-0) picked up the win, allowing two runs on six hits with no walks and six strikeouts across 7.0 innings of work. Jeremy Massie closed out the game with 2.0 innings of work, allowing one unearned run on two hits with a strikeout.
Tyler Alexander (0-1) suffered the loss, allowing six runs – four of them earned – on four hits with three walks and three strikeouts through 5.0 innings of work. Alexander entered the weekend having allowed only one unearned run on the season.
“Mike Mayers was terrific tonight,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “All three of his pitches were in the zone and he did a good job handling some good hitters, including Edwin Rios for them. He really gave us a lift with his performance on the mound.
“The way we swung the ball, it was great to get him lead,” Bianco said. “We kept adding runs on the board and when they scored their two runs, we answered right back in the next inning. That can be deflating for a team and we have done a good job of that.”
For the second straight day, the Rebels got on the board in the first inning. Tanner Mathis drew a lead-off walk before taking third on a hit and run when Austin Anderson singled to right field. Mathis then came home on a ground ball to second from Auston Bousfield that gave Ole Miss the 1-0 lead.
The Rebels added to the lead in the second inning, plating a pair of runs to extend the lead to 3-0. A single from Sikes Orvis started things off before Will Jamison drew a one-out walk. Mathis then walked to load the bases. Anderson brought the first run home with a sac fly to right field that advanced the runners before Jamison would score on a wild pitch.
Ole Miss scored a fourth run in the fourth when Preston Overbey came home on a sac fly to right field from Jamison. Overbey reached with a triple to center field to set up the score on the Jamison fly ball that gave the Rebels the 4-0 lead.
The opportunistic offense continued to take advantage of opportunities in the fifth. Anderson led things off with a single before Bousfield hit a grounder to short. The FIU shortstop made a poor throw and the ball got through the first baseman, allowing Anderson to score from first on the play while Bousfield advanced all the way to third. He then scored on a sac foul fly from Turner in the next at bat to make it 6-0 in favor of the Rebels.
FIU got on the board in the bottom of the inning with a two-run shot to right field from Oscar Aguirre. Nathan Burns scored on the play after reaching on a single to right in the previous at bat. Mayers and the Rebels would then retire the next three batters to get out of the inning with the four-run lead.
Ole Miss got both runs back in the top of the sixth, again taking advantage of a FIU error to get things going. Preston Overbey reached on a throwing error by the shortstop and took second on the play, then scored on a single to right from Jamison. Jamison moved to second on the throw home by the Panthers and stole third. He then scored on a single to center from Mathis and put Ole Miss back on top by six at 8-2.
The Panthers got a single run in the bottom of the ninth, but would get no closer as the Rebels squelched the two-out rally at one unearned run and picked up the win.
The two teams will face each other in the series finale at 11 a.m. CT on Sunday morning at the FIU Baseball Stadium.