Memphis shuts out No. 20 Ole Miss to sweep series for first time since 1985
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Behind 7.2 shutout innings by Michael Wills and a four-run fourth inning, Memphis (23-14) shut out No. 20 Ole Miss (26-11) to sweep the season series for the first time since 1985.
In the top of the first, Tanner Mathis grounded to second but reached on a throwing error by Zach Willis to get Ole Miss going early. After retiring the next batter, Memphis' Michael Willis gave up a single to Auston Bousfield putting runners at first and third.
Working out of a jam, Wills was able to get Stuart Turner to fly out on a foul ball. Willis then made up for his early error, snagging a laser hit up the middle by Preston Overbey with a diving catch and throwing to first for out number three, stranding two for the Rebels.
Wills was forced to work out of a jam in the fourth after Ole Miss put together two singles in the frame. A leadoff single by Bousfield got the trouble started and Overbey made it runners on first and second with one out after a single through the left side. Wills induced a grounder to second and the Tigers rolled up the double play to end the threat.
Memphis used the momentum and put up four runs in the bottom of the inning to grab a 4-0 lead. Zach Willis started it off with an infield single and he advanced to scoring position on a comebacker to the mound by Ethan Gross. Carter White delivered a two-run double to the right field corner to get the Tigers on the board.
On a 1-0 pitch to Tucker Tubbs, a ball in the dirt got White moving toward third and the catcher's throw to third was errant, allowing White to stand on third with one out. Ole Miss elected to intentionally walk Tubbs, but a second walk in the inning loaded the bases. Keaton Aldridge made the Rebels pay with a sacrifice fly to centerfield giving the Tigers a 2-0 cushion. A third walk of the inning loaded the bases again and Bryce Beeler drove in two more with a double of his own to give Memphis a 4-0 lead.
Drew Griffin was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom of the sixth for Memphis. Keaton Aldridge followed with a single up the middle putting runners on the corners with no outs. Ole Miss' Jacob Waguespack struck out Colton Simbeck on a called strike three as Aldridge attempted to steal; Simbeck was called for batter interference on the play resulting in Aldridge begin ruled out. After a pitching change by the Rebels, Bryce Beeler struck out, stranding Griffin at third as the Tigers still held the lead 4-0.
Jake Little walked to lead off the bottom of the seventh for Memphis. Zach Willis laid down a sac bunt to move Little to second with one out. With Gross at the plate, Little stole third, beating the throw of Ole Miss catcher Will Allen. Gross then grounded to short, attempting to take home. Little was thrown out as Gross reached first. Austin Hatfield followed at the plate with a single, advancing Gross to second with two outs. Ole Miss' Austin Blunt then walked Tucker Tubbs to load the bases. Coming out of the bullpen for the Rebels, Jeremy Massie struck out Griffin swinging to end the threat, stranding three for Memphis.
With two outs in the top of the eight, Clayton Gant came in to relieve Wills. The first batter Gant faced, Andrew Mistone, grounded to the middle left side of the infield, but reached first on a fielding error by the Tigers. Ole Miss' Bousfield followed with a single up the middle, placing runners on second and first. Gant then walked Turner, loading the bases for the Rebels. Seeking to get the Tigers out of a two-out bases-loaded jam, Jonathan Van Eaton came on to pitch, striking out Preston Overbey looking on three consecutive pitches to preserve the Memphis' 4-0 lead.
In the bottom half of the frame, Memphis threatened to score again after Beeler and Little reached on a walk and single with two outs. Stepping into the box for Memphis, Little singled to left field. Beeler tried to take home for the insurance run, but was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.
Van Eaton finished off Ole Miss in the top of the ninth retiring the first two batters with fly-outs and forcing a ground out to secure the Memphis win, picking up his eighth save of the season. Wills got the win for Memphis, improving his overall record to 3-2 on the season.
The win is the first shut-out victory against the Rebels since 1985. Memphis has now won the last three meetings with Ole Miss, dating back to last season's match-up on April 24, 2012.