Ole Miss unloads on Purdue again

The 16th-ranked Rebels and the Boilermakers wrap up their three-game series Sunday at noon at Swayze Field.

If a 14-3 Friday night Ole Miss win over Purdue didn't signal some dominance by the Rebels against the Boilermakers, add a Saturday 20-7 Rebel rout for more proof.

Of course there is one game left in the 3-games series between the SEC and Big Ten schools. So there's still work to be done.

But following today's win, the Rebels felt they are playing their best baseball of the season as they moved to 8-3 overall. Purdue is now 1-4.

The day was again about offense as the Rebels got 20 hits after a 14-hit game last night. The offense kept rolling today, but so did the pitching.

"Stephen Head took over where Mark Holliman left off last night," Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said. "He really had great command of the zone today. Last night we threw a lot of pitches away. The reason is this team (Purdue) gets hit a lot. Last year they had like 97 hit by pitches. Mark was throwing so hard and his stuff was so good, it wasn't important to get inside. He would throw it by them even outside. Today we started like that and some guys got some balls in. Stephen came into the dugout and said even though they were crowding the plate, he wanted to go in. We really did that the rest of the game. He really showed great command and great stuff on a tough day to pitch with the wind blowing out to right. I thought he looked tremendous out there."

Head pitched six innings, allowing one earned run on five hits with five strikeouts and a walk.

But Head also contributed greatly to his cause on offense. The junior was 2-for-4 with four RBI, including a monster home run in the fourth, a three-run shot that landed well beyond the right field wall and onto the second of four tennis courts beyond right field.

"Stephen can hit it as far as anybody," said Bianco of Head's fourth round-tripper of the season. "With the wind blowing, that one went way over onto the tennis courts. It looked like it was heading toward South Lamar (Ave.)."

The ball actually traveled some 460 feet. Head said he got all of it.

"The pitch was low and inside, and I just hit it good," he said. "It was one of those when you hit it you know you got it all and that it's gone. I was excited to get a hit, because I haven't been hitting the ball as well as I'd like to this year. Maybe that will jumpstart something."

Head said he almost slowed up to watch it, but there was a reason he didn't.

"I saw it hit the tennis court, but before the game Coach Bianco said to be sure we ran out all our home runs," Head said. "So I didn't want to stand there and get in trouble right after he had said that."

That blast was one of many offensive highlights; Head's three-RBI shot one of five Rebel runs scored in the fourth inning. They'd already put up nine runs in the second, and when Head departed the mound after six complete, the Rebels were ahead 17-1.

The Boilers got a run in the second and didn't scratch again until the seventh when they got four runs off Rebel relief pitchers Eric Fowler and Stoney Stone.

Fowler only got one out in the seventh, allowing three earned runs on four hits with a strikeout, while Stone went an inning and two-thirds with one earned run, a hit, and a strikeout. Chris Moffett closed things out in the final inning with an unearned run on two hits and a strikeout.

But the Rebels lit up the scoreboard offensively all day. Head said that was important.

"It was incredible to have our guys hit so well," he said. "This team has been dominant offensively, and to continue to swing that well and build on last night was great to see."

C.J. Ketchum, who played first today while Head pitched and then finished the game at third, went 3-for-4 with an RBI. Centerfielder Miles Franklin was 3-for-6 with two RBI, his first 3-hit game in two seasons as a Rebel. Franklin also had a highlights film catch of a long fly ball near the right center wall in the second.

"I had a pretty good day at the plate, I got some good pitches to hit and made some good swings," Franklin said. "I put the ball in play, and that was good for the team.

"On my catch, I really didn't think it was going that far," he continued. "Brian Pettway (Rebel rightfielder) was yelling I had room to catch it. It ended up being a big play, because they probably get more runs if I don't catch that ball. Head came back and shut them down after that."

Cooper Osteen was 2-for-3 with 2 RBI including a double. Brian Pettway was 2-for-4 with four RBI, including a solo shot over the right field fence that immediately followed Head's blast. It was Pettway's fourth home run of the season as well. Justin Henry was 2-for-4 with an RBI.

Purdue went through seven pitchers trying desperately to slow the Rebel express down. Starter Brent Coudron, who was pulled during the Rebels' nine-run second, got the loss. Head, of course, was the winner - his second of the season against no defeats.

Pettway said games like this one are good to get a lot of players involved.

"Yesterday and today we got a lot of people in that might not normally play a lot," he said. "To get them some experience and to get them into the ballgame is good. They helped us keep on rolling today. They've done a great job for two days."

The Rebels and Boilermakers have drawn more than 7,000 fans to the ballpark in two days - 3,318 Friday night and 3,715 Saturday. Head said the Rebels have been feeding off the early March environment as Southeastern Conference play is only two weekends away - Florida in Oxford March 18-20.

Even when things got out of hand for the visitors, the Rebels remained focused and took care of business.

"When you have the atmosphere like we did today with the fans and an opposing team on the field, it's always baseball, and you have to go out and continue to play," Head said.

Same two teams play at noon Sunday.

OM Spirit Top Stories