Ole Miss' bullpen dominates Auburn as Rebels win first SEC road series

Ole Miss sophomore designated hitter Andrew Fischer hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the ninth inning against Auburn Saturday night, and the Rebels clinched their first SEC road series win of the season with a 5-4 victory over the Tigers at Plainsman Park.

Fischer drove in a team-high three runs and also hit his second home run in as many days.

Freshman Wes Mendes pitched the final three innings in relief for the Rebels (25-21, 9-14). He did not surrender a hit or a run.

“The two things, and they kind of go hand-in-hand, is (Mendes) being able to utilize some off-speed pitches — his slider and curve — and tonight, and the last few outings, he’s had both of those. Tonight, I thought they were the best that they’ve been,” Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said. “ … And then the fastball, and throwing a ton of strikes. Wes has got tremendous stuff, and he’s not a ball thrower. But I think, being a freshman, it’s tough. It’s a tough league to have success in. But tonight, man, he looked like a veteran out there.”

Auburn scored two runs off sophomore starter Liam Doyle in the first inning, but the Rebels cut the lead in half in the second on a fielder’s choice from sophomore catcher Eli Berch.

The Rebels got runners to the corners with no outs in the third, and senior left fielder Jackson Ross tied the game at two with a sacrifice fly. Auburn (21-24, 3-20) loaded the bases in the fourth with one out on Doyle and scored one run on a sacrifice fly and another on a single that ricocheted off junior reliever Josh Mallitz. Doyle went 3.2 innings, gave up two earned runs, struck out five and walked three.

Fischer tied the game again with a two-run home run in the fifth inning. An errant throw from Mallitz advanced Auburn runners to second and third with no outs in the bottom of the fifth, but he recorded three-straight outs to get out of the inning unscathed. Mallitz pitched 2.1 scoreless innings, gave up two hits, struck out three batters, hit two and walked one. He and Mendes combined to throw 5.1 scoreless innings.

With the game tied at four with one out in the top of the ninth, Fischer came to the plate with the bases loaded and gave the Rebels the lead with a sacrifice fly on the ninth pitch of a lengthy at-bat. The Rebels walked four times in the inning.

“Him and (Ethan) Lege, arguably, have been our most consistent guys from Day 1,” Bianco said. “Fisch is swinging it really well, and he’s such a gamer. Probably not a better guy on the team to have up in that situation.”

Ole Miss and Auburn finish their three-game series Sunday at 3 p.m. The game will be broadcast on SEC Network.