Rodriguez, Rebs roll past Tennessee

Ole Miss got another terrific pitching performance from Craig Rodriguez and the Rebels unleashed an offensive barrage of hitting and scoring in an eight-run victory. Saturday's game has been moved from 4 p.m. to 1 p.m. in an attempt to avoid predicted poor baseball weather.

Until the Rebel bats got going, Friday night's 13-5 Ole Miss win against Tennessee was all about Craig Rodriguez. As you can tell, it became about the Rebel bats at some point, too.

Ole Miss and Tennessee played to a scoreless tie through three and a half innings. But from that point on the Rebels would score in every inning to roll to the win.

It's a Rebel team that's playing very good baseball.

"We got 17 hits and 13 runs on a Friday night. You hardly ever see that," said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco, whose team moved to 28-15 on the season and 11-8 in Southeastern Conference play, good for second place currrently in the West behind 14-5 Alabama. The Rebels are tied for third in the overall SEC race at the present time with Vanderbilt and Kentucky, who are also 11-8. South Carolina at 12-7 is in solo second.

"We just had a great approach (at the plate) tonight," Bianco said. "We worked hard on that every day in practice. The second time through the lineup we started getting some better swings off."

Indeed they did. It was almost uncanny the way the Rebels spread out those 17 hits. One through nine everybody had two hits except Evan Button who had just one. But Justin Henry, C.J. Ketchum, Chris Coghlan, Zack Cozart, Alex Presley, Mark Wright, Logan Power, and Justin Brashear all registered two hits on the evening as a crowd announced at 5,003 roared its approval.

After a Coghlan single, Presley's triple got things rolling in the fourth for the Rebs. A Mark Wright double and a Logan Power double later, Ole Miss led 3-0 and basically never looked back.

Only after the score was 11-0 did UT threaten at all to make a game of it, scoring five runs in the eighth. But the damage was done.

Rodriguez said he was glad to see the offense continue to pound the baseball as it has the past several games.

"I felt good again out there," said the Rebel junior left-hander who moved to 3-1 on the season after going seven innings and three batters into the eighth before giving way to senior right-handed reliever Stoney Stone. "And 17 hits helps a lot, too."

Rodriguez has been effective for some time now for the Rebels. He moved to the head of the class five series ago when the Rebels got to Athens, Ga., and were struggling. Three games later, they'd won them all, and Rodriguez was the guy who got things started.

"He's been good," Bianco said. "It seems like we've been saying that every Friday night since Georgia. About five or six weeks ago, we needed a boost. Certainly he's given that to us every Friday."

"I'm just out there having fun," said Rodriguez, who allowed three runs on seven hits with four strikeouts and three walks. "I'm just out there enjoying myself. I'm singing and stuff (whatever they're playing on the public address system, he says). I just love it out there."

And the Rebels are loving it at the plate. C.J. Ketchum, who sent one out of the park over the center field wall in the sixth, a two-run shot that put Ole Miss up 7-0, said the team is feeling it offensively.

"Hitting's contagious," Ketchum said. "With Justin (Henry) leading off, and then Chris (Coghlan) is just such a big part of our lineup. When Chris hits, it seems like everybody follows. We're just a very confident team and we're playing our best ball right now."

UT starter Craig Cobb (7-2), the first of three Vol pitchers, got the loss. The Vols, now 25-17 on the season and 7-11 in SEC play, had 10 hits in the contest.

Bianco said it was good to see the Rebels do so well offensively against an outstanding Volunteer starter.

"He's a guy who wins as much as anybody in the league, who has as good an ERA as anybody in the league, and an opposing BA as good as anybody in the league," Bianco said after the Rebels got six earned runs and nine hits off Cobb. "He's tough and we just had that great approach tonight."

Henry, who injured a hand in the LSU series, had an error on his first defensive chance but played the entire game and made some outstanding plays, both individually and as a part of double plays.

"Here's a guy who hadn't taken a ground ball or taken batting practice all week," Bianco said. "It was good to see him back in the lineup and doing some good things."

OM Spirit Top Stories