The 16th-ranked Ole Miss baseball team keeps rolling along.
The Rebels wrapped up their second consecutive non-conference weekend sweep with a 7-3 Sunday win over Sam Houston State, after taking the Friday night game from the Bearkats 4-2 and the Saturday game 12-8.
The Rebels have now won eight games in a row – that streak started with the second of two games against Northwestern State on March 2, a 3-game sweep of Purdue last weekend, and a win against USM on March 9, in addition to this weekend's action. Coach Mike Bianco said his team is playing better.
"We've played pretty well for several games," said Bianco, whose ballclub is now 13-3 on the season. "We had a pretty solid 27 innings this weekend. It's obvious we're swinging the bats well. We're playing pretty solid defense, and we're five people deep at pitcher and looking for more."
Bianco continued the rotation of Mark Holliman, Stephen Head, and Anthony Cupps this weekend. Matt Maloney continues to be the key reliever for the team and is scheduled to remain as such.
The Rebels host Southeast Missouri State Tuesdsay night and Wednesday night, and the starters will be Tommy Baumgardner and Eric Fowler respectively.
"If you want to pick an area that we might be lacking in so far it is relief pitching," Bianco said. "And I mean more when we have a good lead and want to keep it that way. Sometimes we haven't maintained that lead and we need to start doing that. We will continue to look for guys who can step up and do that."
Offensively the Rebels have continued to score runs, even though they only scored four Friday night. On Sunday it was the Chris Coghlan show as the sophomore third baseman went 3-for-4 with three RBI including a two-run home run in the first, a solo homer in the third, and a lead off double in the eighth, advancing to third on a wild pitch and then scoring on a Stephen Head single.
"I knew the first one was out," said Coghlan of the two-run shot that cleared the right center wall and traveled some 395 feet. "The second one (a 332-foot shot that just cleared the wall near the right field foul pole) I got a little help from the wind on."
Coghlan leads the team in hitting with an average of .433 and has four home runs on the season now. Stephen Head and Brian Pettway are the team's home run leaders with five each.
"This team is deeper than last year," Coghlan said. "We hit the ball better and play solid defense. We have so many pitchers back that are pitching well. We're looking forward to starting SEC baseball this weekend."
But first there is the business of Southeast Missouri, which comes to Oxford 6-7 on the season.
"We need to play a little cleaner baseball," Bianco said. "We need to make less mistakes. I know that will come in time, but it's time we played a better overall game. But we've been fairly consistent the last few games and played good baseball. We need for that to continue and to pick it up in a few areas."
In Sunday's win Maloney (4-0) pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings of relief for starter Cupps to earn the win. He allowed two hits and walked one, while striking out five.
Cupps allowed three runs, two earned, on seven hits and three walks, while striking out two in 5 1/3 innings.
The Bearkats tied the game up 3-3 with three runs in the top of the fourth after Coghlan had almost single-handedly put the home team up 3-0 earlier.
Ole Miss got an important run in the bottom of the sixth to go back in front 4-3. C.J. Ketchum reached on a one-out fielder's choice which allowed Head to score after the Rebel first baseman had singled and advanced to second on a Brian Pettway base hit. Mark Wright walked to load the bases prior to Ketchum's fielder's choice.
After Head scored, Zack Cozart flied out to the shortstop to end the inning.
Things stayed that way until Ole Miss scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth to all but end it.
Gametimes for this week's games with SEMO are 6:30 p.m. both Tuesday and Wednesday.
Coghlan on fire as Rebs sweep Sam Houston
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