Matt Maloney continued his stellar season of pitching Tuesday night, holding Southern Mississippi to only three hits in the 16th-ranked Rebels' 9-1 win over the visiting Golden Eagles.
The junior southpaw from Huron, Ohio, and Manatee (Fla.) CC, in his second season with the Rebs, went eight complete, allowing one run on three hits with 10 strikeouts and no walks.
Nobody had a better view of the action from the mound than senior catcher Barry Gunther, who was quite impressed with Maloney.
"He stayed ahead all night and didn't get behind," said Gunther. "You're just not going to hit that slider when he gets ahead. I hated trying to hit it in intrasquads when I got behind. I think I could have fallen asleep back there tonight he was so on. The guy is just one of our best pitchers. This was a team that can hit the ball, but not tonight."
Maloney said he felt as solid as ever out there tonight before 2,948.
"Everything worked for me tonight - fast ball, slider, curve, change," he said. "The first couple of innings I was leaving my fast ball up a little bit so I worked my offspeed a little bit more. I gained a little bit more confidence with that, and later I mixed in the fast ball. I was just going out there to get these guys out. That was my job tonight and I went out to get it done."
The Golden Eagles got a hit in the first but didn't get another baserunner until the eighth as Maloney retired 21 batters in a row. By that time the Rebels led 7-0.
"We didn't take advantage of some early opportunities," said USM head coach Corky Palmer, whose team fell to 9-3, "and Maloney just kept getting better and better."
The Rebels got two runs in the bottom of the second when Brian Pettway walked and Mark Wright hit a two-run shot over the left field wall.
Pettway drove in Stephen Head in the third with a single up the middle after Head had doubled to center field to put Ole Miss up 3-0. In the fourth the Rebs added another run to make it 4-0 when Barry Gunther doubled to the wall scoring Zack Cozart who had beaten out a throw from the second baseman for a single.
Cooper Osteen led off the seventh with a double, stole third, and scored on a Chris Coghlan base hit. Head singled to right field as Coghlan advanced to third. A Brian Pettway fly ball scored Coghlan. A Mark Wright double to left center then scored Head, and the Rebs led 7-0.
After the Golden Eagles got their lone run in the top of the eighth, the Rebels added two more in the bottom of the inning on an Osteen double which scored Miles Franklin who had gotten a base hit, and also a single by Head that scored Osteen for the final run of the game.
Pettway came on in the ninth in relief of Maloney and struck out the side to end the game.
Maloney said he hopes his performances so far are indicative of the way things will be all season.
"I just feel more confident this year," said Maloney, who moved to 3-0 on the season with a 0.75 ERA in six appearances. "I worked a lot to get stronger. Coming in and getting stronger helped me with my fast ball. But Coach (Kyle) Bunn has worked hard with me on my offspeed pitches and my slider. Having an effective slider has really given me a lot of confidence. I feel like I can throw any pitch at any time, and I feel when I go out there I'm gonna win."
Head, who led the Rebs at the plate going 4-for-5 with two doubles and an RBI, said he felt good about this one long before the late innings of the contest.
"When it got to 4-0 (in the fourth), we knew it was over," Head said. "We didn't want to let up because it was still early. But you could just tell it was over with Maloney pitching like he was."
Osteen ended the game 3-for-5 with two doubles and an RBI, while Wright was 2-for-3 with a home run, a double and three RBI.
Starter Barry Bowden, one of four USM pitchers, was the loser.
Ole Miss hosts Sam Houston State three games this weekend at 6:30 p.m. on Friday and 1:30 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.
Maloney mows down Golden Eagles
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