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PACKING A PUNCH: Heart of order sends Rebels past Carolina in SEC tourney

HOOVER, Ala. — The middle part of the lineup has been a part of the Ole Miss offense that people have been waiting to wake up.

It woke up Wednesday.

The No. 7-seeded Rebels exploded for 12 hits to defeat No. 2 seed South Carolina, 10-4, to advance on to the winner’s bracket of the Southeastern Conference Tournament at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.

Ole Miss (42-16) will face Vanderbilt, which defeated Texas A&M 6-5 earlier in the day, today at 4:30 p.m. for the right to advance to the semifinal round on Saturday.

The offense came in bunches from center fielder J.B. Woodman, catcher Henri Lartigue and third baseman Colby Bortles as the trio combined to go 8-for-11 with a home run, three walks and seven runs batted in

“I thought again in Day 2 we played some really good baseball,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “With J.B., Bortles and of course Henri with four really big hits and a home run, I just thought it was a well played game for us with some timely hits.”

It was the second day in a row Ole Miss performed much better against an opposing pitcher than it fared earlier in the season. Tuesday saw Georgia’s Heath Holder struggle against the hot Rebel bats and Wednesday was Clarke Schmidt’s turn.

In late March, Schmidt held Ole Miss to just one run on nine hits in 6 1/3 innings of work. It was not the same story in Hoover as the Rebels roughed him up for seven runs, four earned, on seven hits.

“Clarke battled as best as he could, but he just didn’t have his normal stuff,” South Carolina coach Chad Holbrook said. “We didn’t certainly help him out any behind him. So we got to get back to do what we do well.”

Woodman got the scoring started with an RBI double that plated Tate Blackman and Woodman scored off a throwing error by South Carolina shortstop Marcus Mooney, who sent the ball into the Ole Miss dugout on the third-base side.

Lartigue provided more cushion in the third inning with an RBI single that scored Errol Robinson. Woodman once again reached home on the second of what would be five Gamecock errors on the day, this time by center fielder Dom Thompson-Williams. Lartigue worked his way back around to home when Bortles reached on a fielding error by third baseman Jonah Bride to make it a 5-0 game after three innings.

South Carolina (42-14) fought back, scoring two runs in the third to make it 5-2.

Bortles doubled in the fifth inning to once again score Lartigue and Woodman to make it 7-4 at the time, and Lartigue hit a three-run home run, his fourth of the season, for the winning margin in the eighth inning.

“We had some success against (Schmidt) last time we faced him because we had a lot of hits in that game but it was all about the timely hit today,” Lartigue said. “We got hits with runners on and last time we weren’t able to push those runs across but today we were able to.”

David Parkinson faces South Carolina out of the bullpen last meeting and worked 4 1/3 innings of five-hit, one-run baseball. On Wednesday he went 5 2/3 innings and gave up two runs, both earned, on five hits and struck out six while walking two Gamecock batters.

“I felt really good today,” Parkinson said who was pitching on four days rest. “Later in the game I kind of actually felt a little bit better than I was. I don’t know what was going through my head. I think was trying to be too fine. But, later in the game my arm felt strong.”

With the bases loaded in the sixth, Andy Pagnozzi came in and got the Rebels back into the dugout with one pitch. Will Stokes replaced Pagnozzi and worked for the second straight day. This time Stokes earned his seventh save of the season, working three scoreless innings and giving up only three hits to close things out.

“We had some success against (Schmidt) last time we faced him because we had a lot of hits in that game, but it was all about the timely hit today,” Lartigue said. “We got hits with runners on and last time we weren’t able to push those runs across but today we were able to.”

David Parkinson faced South Carolina out of the bullpen in the teams’ last meeting and worked 4 1/3 innings of five-hit, one-run baseball. On Wednesday, he went 5 2/3 innings and gave up two runs, both earned, on five hits and struck out six while walking two Gamecock batters.

“I felt really good today,” said Parkinson, who was pitching on four days rest. “Later in the game, I kind of actually felt a little bit better than I was. I don’t know what was going through my head. I think I was trying to be too fine. But later in the game, my arm felt strong.”

With the bases loaded in the sixth, Andy Pagnozzi came in and got the Rebels back into the dugout with one pitch. Will Stokes replaced Pagnozzi and worked for the second straight day. This time Stokes earned his seventh save of the season, working three scoreless innings and giving up only three hits to close things out.