The 16th-ranked Rebels were productive offensively in their nine-hit, 9-3 win over Austin Peay, and that's where much of the attention has been given lately - better productivity at the plate.
But the five pitchers who made an appearance in this one were five Rebels who at times might have thought they'd never see the mound in a game again - at least at some points in their careers.
They combined for a six-hit performance that adds a new chapter to an already solid pitching story for the 2007 season.
Starter Phillip Irwin, making his third appearance at Ole Miss but his first start, got his second win. His first came in relief against Belmont, a 4-2 UM win on Feb. 27. Irwin (3 innings, 1 run, 4 hits, 4 strikeouts, 2 walks) had Tommy John surgery and had rehabbed for months.
He was relieved on the mound by Justin Cryer, making his first appearance as a Rebel. Cryer (2 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 4 strikeouts, 1 walk) had also undergone Tommy John surgery and had rehabbed for months.
Then there was Nick Hetland (2 innings, 2 runs, 2 hits, 1 strikeout, 2 walks), pitching for the first time since surgery back in the summer on his throwing shoulder. Cody Satterwhite (1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 2 strikeouts, 0 walks), battling back from tendonitis, was next. Rory McKean (1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 strikeouts, 0 walks), who was throwing for the first time as a Rebel, closed it out in the ninth.
So while the focus might have been on hitting, a host of pitchers made some headway in their college careers and for this team just by getting some mound time.
"It was very good to see them out there," said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. "Phillip Irwin got his feet wet as a starter, and that was great to see. Justin Cryer was awesome; his fast ball and breaking ball were terrific. Nick Hetland hasn't pitched in a while and it was good to get him back out there. He struggled with his command a bit, and that's going to happen when you have a lead and they know fast balls are coming. Cody Satterwhite had his best outing of the year so far. And Rory McKean came in and filled up the zone at the end."
Several times this season, the Rebels had put a lot of pressure on their pitchers by not scoring many runs. Tonight they got enough runs to allow their rehabbed and new pitchers to perform.
"We got some timely hits," said Bianco, his team now 11-4 on the season. "It was a good night offensively. We were very aggressive."
Austin Peay got a run in the top of the third inning, but the Rebels came back with three in the bottom of the third. After Brett Basham and Justin Henry led off the inning with back to back walks, Logan Power laid down a bunt just in front of home plate that, although he didn't beat it out to first, allowed Basham and Henry to advance. A Zack Cozart single scored Basham and Henry as Cozart advanced to second on the throw. After Cozart stole a base with Andrew Clark at bat, Clark flew out to center field to score Cozart.
Ole Miss added three more runs in the bottom of the fourth to lead 6-1 as two consecutive walks by Fuller Smith and Peyton Farr, this time with one out, were followed by a bases-loading single to left by Basham.
Justin Henry singled to right field to score both Smith and Farr as Basham wound up at third. Basham then scored on a fielder's choice by Power.
Hetland gave up a two-run homer in the top of the sixth to pull the Bat Govs to within 6-3. The Rebs got two in the bottom of the sixth with a triple by Basham to the right-center wall which scored Farr who had doubled; then a single to center field by Justin Henry to score Basham.
Evan Button added the last Ole Miss run as he scored on a bases loaded fly ball by Basham in the bottom of the seventh.
Matt Reynolds, 2-1 on the season and the first of three pitchers used by APSU, got the loss.
The Rebels host 23rd-ranked UCLA this weekend. Game times are Friday at 6:30 p.m., Saturday at 1:30 p.m., and Sunday at 12 noon.
Offense, pitching keys to 9-3 UM win
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