Sometimes a team just has to scratch a run out to get things started.
After a scoreless first three innings and fairly silent bats, the Ole Miss Rebels got a run in the bottom of the fourth without a hit. After that, the bottom bascially fell out for Arkansas State as the Rebs rolled to a 10-0 win to open the 2005 season
In that fourth inning, the Indian starter began to show some signs of fatigue. Junior RHP Tyler Goodwin walked Brian Pettway to lead things off, and a couple of wild pitches later, Pettway scored to finally give the Rebels a run.
Nobody would have believed at that point it would be enough for victory. But it was.
Before a record season-opening home crowd of 3,118, the Rebels got another run in the fifth before the floodgates opened in the sixth when they added six more.
Three innings later, Arkansas State, who had beaten the Rebels in four of the last five meetings, headed back to Jonesboro 3-1 on the season.
"I thought for opening day we played really well," Ole Miss Coach Mike Bianco said. "It starts defensively and also on the mound, and today I thought (RHP) Anthony Cupps and (LHP) Matt Maloney were what they were supposed to be. They are juniors and are guys who have pitched great all fall and spring."
Cupps started the game and went six complete, with three hits, six strikeouts and no walks.
"I feel like I was throwing all my pitches well today," Cupps said. "I've been working on my slider. I threw it a lot today, because they only had one left-handed hitter. I threw a lot of sliders to their right-handed hitters. With the hitting and defense we have, if we play like this we'll win a lot of games."
Maloney went the next two innings, allowing one hit with two strikeouts. Redshirt freshman Will Kline of Tupelo, in his first action as a Rebel, closed things out in the final frame three up, three down.
"Will Kline came in and I was real proud of him," Bianco said of the right-hander. "To come in and pitch like that in the ninth, I don't care what the score is. He didn't throw a fast ball under 90 (mph). To throw a breaking ball on your first college pitch into the strike zone in front of 3,000 people, that was great to see."
There were other superlatives in game one, including a stellar day from true freshman shortstop Zack Cozart.
"To see Zack play like that in his first college game, defensively and to swing the bat like that, was great," Bianco said.
Cozart ended the day 2-for-4 with a double, a triple, and a RBI.
Sophomore third baseman Chris Coghlan was 3-for-5 on the day, junior Stephen Head was 2-for-3 with an RBI, and senior OF Miles Franklin was 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI.
But the big bat of the day belonged to Pettway, who was 2-for-3 with four RBI and a three-run homer in the sixth.
"I hit the ball well today and just felt comfortable at the plate," Pettway said. "I've been seeing the ball well, and just recognizing the pitch to hit is the key and just trying to drive it. The home run ball was a fast ball that was out over the plate. I got to extend my arms on it. I put a good swing on it, but I really didn't get all of it. I did get enough of it to get it out of the park today."
The ball carried some 393 feet to right center and would most likely have even gone out of the ballpark with the old, bigger dimensions.
"I thought we played about as well as we can play - right now," said Bianco. "Obviously we want to get better. But to put up 10 runs and 14 hits and pitch a shutout on our side, it was hard to ask for much more than that on the first day of the season."
The Rebels now travel to Houston for a tournament at Rice. They face Lamar at 1 p.m. Friday.
Rebels roll past Arkansas State 10-0
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