Reserves Rake Gophers in 9-4 Victory

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - Zach Miller and Alex Kliman had no clue they would be playing the second game of the double-header against Minnesota Saturday, but The Golden Gophers were well aware of the two of them by day's end.

Both saw their first action of the weekend and powered Ole Miss (9-4) to a 9-4 thrashing of Minnesota (4-1) to split the two-game affair inside the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. The Rebels finish the tournament 2-1.

"I am just trying to make the best of the opportunity," Kliman said. "I was happy to get out there and help the team win. I was finishing up an Arby's burger, and they said I was starting. It was time to get the gear on and go."

Kliman started at catcher and clobbered Gopher pitching in a three-for-four game that included a double, three RBI and a run scored. Miller got his hacks in at designated hitter, finishing with a hit, two runs scored, an RBI, a walk, two stolen bases and reached on a hit by pitch.

"We needed a change and to switch things around," head coach Mike Bianco said. "Kliman came in and blocked all the balls, handled the pitchers. He had three big hits.

"Miller also did a great job of coming in and producing. He added some excitement to the game."

Brett Bukvich (2-1) was the first pitcher to benefit from sound run support since Nathan Baker against Memphis, but the left-handed hurler would have been ok without it.

Bukvich dazzled with only three hits and one run allowed in a bullpen-saving eight full innings. Cody Satterwhite recorded the final three outs, although he struggled, giving up four hits and three runs.

"Brett was just awesome," Bianco said. "He follows the trend that has been happening for us all year. Pitching is just outstanding. Fastball was there all day. He commanded both sides of the plate so well."

The Rebels ravaged Minnesota on the bases with six stolen bases including two each by Miller and Justin Henry. Ole Miss did continue to struggle with moving runners as it left 12 runners on base.

"We are not one of those teams that will steal 200 bases, but we will steal when the opportunity presents itself," Bianco said. "It has to do with the flow of the game. A couple of the baserunners did it on their own. Minnesota just wasn't as good at defending the steal as some other teams we have played."

One player who will be hesitant to leave Minnesota is freshman Andrew Clark. The first baseman completed his weekend tear with three hits and two RBI including a mammoth two-run home run that sailed into the upper deck of the Metrodome.

"I am trying to ride this streak out," Clark said. "I came here in a funk and had a great weekend. Hopefully it can carry into a big weekend against UCLA next weekend. I got under the home run a little bit. It was a hanging curve, but hey, I get to say that I went upper deck at the Metrodome."

Ole Miss jumped on Minnesota early with a run in the first and two in the third. The Gophers cut that lead to two in the fifth inning, but six consecutive runs over the next four frames did in Minnesota.

The offensive outburst gave some breathing room to Rebel pitchers that had been carrying the team all season.

"This feels good because it is exactly how we are supposed to be," Bukvich said. "Coach shifted the lineup and added some life to the order. In the end it will average out. The offense will come around and help us later."

Justin Henry thrived from the leadoff spot by accounting for four of the Rebels' nine runs. The junior picked up three RBI and scored a run on three hits.

"We had some obstacles on the weekend with the weather, but that is no excuse," Bianco said. "The trip was beneficial to the group even with the Saturday loss. Hopefully, this jumpstarts our offense for the future."

Ole Miss dropped the first game Saturday 3-2 and will take the field next on Tuesday for a two-game set with Austin Peay. UCLA vists Oxford for three games next weekend.

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