Rebs unleash 'O' vs. Memphis; Cupps K's 12 Tigers

The Rebels and the Tigers play game two of the two-game series at AutoZone Park in downtown Memphis Wednesday night at 6:30.

Tuesday night's 13-4 win over Memphis was mostly about Rebel hitting and the pitching of Anthony Cupps.

That's because neither had been what they once were this season, but both stepped up big again on Tuesday night.

The Rebels, who improved to 28-13 on the season before 2,918 fans, outhit the 10-29 Tigers by an 18-5 margin on the evening and had four home runs - two by Stephen Head and one each by Mark Wright and Alex Kliman.

Cupps, the junior right-hander who was an SEC starter until the LSU series two weekends ago when he lost his Sunday spot to Eric Fowler, pitched six innings of four hit, three walk, three run baseball. But even more impressively were his 12 strikeouts, doubling his previous best "K" effort which came against Arkansas State in the Rebels' 10-0 season-opening victory this year.

"It was good to come out and have an outing like that," said Cupps, who improved to 6-3 on the season with the win. "This was a big confidence boost for me to come out and do that. I think I'm back on track now. I'm ready to pitch again."

UM Coach Mike Bianco said it was good to see him pitch so well again.

"I thought Anthony was super tonight," he said. "I thought he threw it tonight as well as I've seen him. He threw more than 100 pitches (122 to be exact), and he got a little tired there in the last inning. But he was just super tonight. He struck out 12. Great curve ball, and a really dominant fastball."

Bianco also said the Rebels had been looking to get better swings off and have better plate experiences offensively. They talked about it as a team, and against the Tigers it seemed to pay off.

"It was good to swing the bats well tonight after not swinging it so well the past three or four games," he said. "We coach every day. We tweak every day. Regardless of whether we win or lose, or score a lot of runs or don't, that is what we do. After evaluating some at-bats and some of the things that happened lately, we talked to the players about some adjustments, like being able to handle the inside pitch, and starting so early that you are going to chase high pitches. Things like that. I thought we had started to overswing and press offensively last weekend (against Georgia), swinging at some bad pitches, some fast balls that were over our heads.

"This was from some guys who weren't doing it all year," Bianco continued. "Rather than just being short and hitting the ball and getting a base hit, I thought we were overswinging and starting to press and trying to hit balls five miles. The big three in the middle, meaning Head, Pettway, and Wright, were really getting away from what's made them so successful. They needed to let go of the bad pitches and swing at the good ones and hit balls all over the field. Some days you'll get singles, and some days you'll hit home runs. The last two weekends we just haven't hit enough balls on the button. Tonight that was the difference. We just hit more balls hard and when you do that you'll have more success. Cut down the swings a little bit, hit more balls in play, hit more line drives, concentrate on BP, quit trying to hit too many home runs in batting practice, just get back to doing what we did a few weeks ago."

Head went 2-for-3 with two home runs and five RBI. His first home run was a two-run shot in the first inning to give the Rebels a 2-0 lead. He had a sacrifice fly in the second to make it 3-0 and then had another two-run home run in the fourth to extend Ole Miss' lead to 8-0. The home runs were Head's 13th and 14th of the season.

"We had a meeting before the game and talked about how we need to hit more line drives," Head said. "Coach Bianco said to us that if we hit more balls on the barrel and more line drives, then that equals more home runs. That's the approach we took tonight. We hit four home runs and had a lot of hits and a bunch of line drives. We want to continue that Wednesday night and this weekend."

Mark Wright hit his 10th home run with a three-run shot in the second that made it 6-0. Alex Kliman hit his first career home run with a pinch-hit solo shot to lead off the seventh and extend the Rebels' lead to 10-3.

Blake Richardson (1-3) suffered the loss, allowing nine runs on 11 hits and three walks, while striking out four in five innings.

Ole Miss had 11 different players record one hit as the Rebels out-hit the Tigers 18-5.

Cooper Osteen went 3-for-5 with an RBI for Ole Miss. Adam Amar was 2-for-4 for Memphis.

The two teams will meet again Wednesday evening at 6:30 p.m., at AutoZone Park in Memphis. Junior right-hander Chris Moffett (0-0, 1.23 ERA) is scheduled to start for Ole Miss. Memphis will counter with senior right-hander Daniel de Armas (2-3, 8.89 ERA).

Cupps said he knows even with his solid performance as a starter Tuesday night that he will remain in the pen for at least a while longer on weekends.

"Eric will start again on Sunday, and I will come out of the bullpen this weekend," Cupps said. "I'm looking forward to that. As a pitcher there are times you struggle and times you bounce back. Tonight I bounced back."

Bianco said game two vs. Memphis is a special treat since the Rebels get to play in the St. Louis Cardinals' AAA home, the 15,000-seat AutoZone Park.

"And, of course, we have so many players from the Memphis area. It's really a good trip for us," he said. "A good Ole Miss crowd shows up and it's a great facility and a gorgeous ballpark. This is always a neat experience for us."

Other game notes from Tuesday night:

Head's two-run first inning homer was his 200th career hit at UM.

Head's five RBI tied his career high set against Louisiana Tech in 2003.

Brian Pettway went 1-for-4 and now has hit in 38 of the Rebs' 41 games this season.

RS freshman RHP Brooks Villar relieved Cupps and went an inning and two-thirds, while junior RHP Bradley Lum made his first career appearance at Ole Miss working the final inning and a third.

Sophomore catcher Justin Brashear went 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored.

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