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STARKVILLE – Now that the Rebels are back in the win column following an 8-5 win over then-No. 5 Mississippi State Sunday, their head coach Mike Bianco hopes it’s a positive step moving forward.
Bianco felt his team had gotten away from playing with the toughness it showed earlier in the season, so he was pleased to see Ole Miss compete from start to finish in game three of the series with the Bulldogs inside Dudy Noble Field.
Mike Bianco, Ole Miss head coach
The Rebels were behind 2-0 in the series heading into game three against the Bulldogs Sunday, due, in part, to some instability in the starting pitching as well as the inability to get runs when needed. In both losses, Ole Miss (21-7, 3-6 Southeastern Conference) combined for eight hits–but early on in game three it looked as if the Rebels were turning things around. Ole Miss was off to an early 2-0 lead before seeing Mississippi State’s Elih Marrero’s double to left center field that scored Cody Brown and Gavin Collins.
But junior LHP Wyatt Short entered the game and quickly slowed down the Bulldogs’ momentum for the next three innings, and in that time span Ole Miss scored four runs to go up, 6-2. Getting the win was obviously good for Ole Miss in terms of ending a five-game losing streak, but as junior catcher Henri Lartigue suggested, playing better and improving offensively and defensively were the most important goals to accomplish.
Lartigue scored the game’s first run off a homer to left field in the bottom of the second and was also responsible for Kyle Watson and J.B. Woodman’s earned runs in the top of the ninth when he knocked a single to left center field. Along with Lartigue’s performance, the powder-blue wearing Rebels totaled 10 hits.
Lartigue knew it would take patience and focus to get back into the win column.
“It wasn’t about ‘Hey, we have to win today,'” said Lartigue, who went 3 for 5 to go with his career-high three RBIs. “We just wanted to play well. We wanted to look up at the end of the game at the scoreboard and say, ‘They beat us, not we lost.’ So, we played well, and when you play well, you have a great chance to win.”
With some of the league’s top teams left on the schedule, Lartigue and the rest of the Rebels will need to continue to play well, but fortunately Ole Miss has three of the next four series (Arkansas, Auburn and LSU) at Swayze Field. Having the home crowd support is always a good thing, and Lartigue hopes the team can feed off the energy.
Ole Miss catcher Henri Lartigue
Coach Bianco is certainly pleased to have the upcoming stretch at home. Ole Miss will not have to do much traveling this month, as the Rebels’ only road games in April are at Southern Miss (Tuesday) and Alabama (April 15-17).
“It’s not like we have been on the road for a long time, but we have been at home, been away, at home, been away,” Bianco said. “It’s certainly great to play at Swayze. We got a big game on Tuesday down in Pearl and then back home. That will be nice.”
The Rebels head south today to face Southern Miss in a neutral site game at Trustmark Park in Pearl, Mississippi. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. (CT).
Ole Miss – James McArthur, Freshman RHP, is 3-0 on the season and has a 5.48 ERA
Southern Mississippi – Mason Whaley, Junior RHP, is 1-1 with a 4.32 ERA.
Courtney is from Memphis and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Memphis in May of 2014. He began his journalism career covering the Memphis Tigers Men’s basketball team, which landed him an intern position on 730 Yahoo Sports Radio and a position with Rivals.com. A freelance writer for the Associated Press, Courtney is also a member of The Rebel Walk team and reports regularly on Ole Miss football and basketball. Courtney, the father of a six-year old girl named Soniyah, prefers to cover NCAA basketball and football, but is happy to report on any other sport that comes his way.