OXFORD • Former Oxford High School standout Ben Bianco had a chance to cancel out Cael Baker and stick it his dad and his hometown with one swing.
But on a day when newcomers shined, Ole Miss reliever Braden Forsyth got the last two outs, and the No. 25-ranked Rebels held on to win 8-6 against No. 1 Louisville before 9,907 Swayze Field fans Saturday.
The decisive third game in the series is today at noon.
Baker, the junior college player of the year last season, went 4 for 4 with a double, two home runs and four RBIs.
Freshman second baseman Petyon Chatagnier had two hits as newcomers got six of the 12 for the Rebels (1-1).
“The approach of the game was hunt the fastball, and if you see it get a good swing,” Baker said. “In the fall I felt like I was trying to do too much. Coaches were telling me be yourself, help the team out anyway. That’s honestly what I’ve been trying to do.”
Unhappy with their offensive performance in a 7-2 loss Friday, the Rebels put up three runs on three hits in the first, one of them a solo shot by Baker. He homered again in the seventh with Tyler Keenan aboard to make it 7-5, and the Rebels added another run in the inning.
Senior relief pitcher Austin Miller, a big part of last year’s bullpen, threw a perfect eighth and but struggled after getting the leadoff out in the ninth.
Forsyth, who pitched at Meridian Community College last season, retired his first batter when Henry Davis, who had doubled twice, swung at a 3-0 pitch and popped up in first base foul ground.
He went to 3-2 on Bianco when Bianco swung and missed.
Ole Miss starter Gunnar Hoglund gave up three runs on six hits with seven strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings.
“The way we got dominated last night by the fastball we were all disappointed. Today the guys got off better swings on the fastball,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said.