Rebels beat Bruins 4-1 to take series

Brett Bukvich and Scott Bittle proved to be too much for UCLA Sunday as the two Rebels combined for a five-hit, one-run effort. Ole Miss beat the Bruins 4-1 and took the SEC-Pac 10 weekend series played in Oxford two games to one.

"After we got three runs (in the first two innings), the way we pitched today and with us playing very good defense, they made it look easy," Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said of the two pitchers he called on in this one. "Brett's fastball control wasn't there today, but the changeup was certainly there. It's tough to face a guy like Bukvich after facing (Lance) Lynn and (Will) Kline on Friday and Saturday. He did what we needed and you can't ask for more from a starter than to go into the eighth inning. And Scott was super dominant at the end. He's pitching really well."

Bukvich, with the win now 3-1 on the year, pitched seven and a third, allowing one run on five hits with three strikeouts and a walk.

"Coach (Bianco) just told me to go out and fill it up," Bukvich said. "I tried to go out there and do my job and let the defense work. My changeup was working, and even on days when nothing else is working, I can always fall back to my changeup."

UCLA head coach John Savage, his team now 8-9 on the season, said Bukvich made it difficult for his Bruins.

He's a tough competitor," said the Bruins' manager. "He's got a good changeup. He mixes his pitches up well."

Bittle went an inning and two-thirds with five strikeouts, a walk, and a questionable hit by pitch. In the ninth after a strikeout, Bittle walked a batter after the hit by pitch to put Bruins on first and second. But he got the next two batters to strike out looking.

"To come in with five outs left and strike out five is impressive," Bianco said of Bittle, who got his sixth save of the season through 18 games. "He's pitching really well and with a lot of confidence."

The Rebels, with 10 hits, left eight runners on base during the contest, but the offense appears to be coming around.

"I thought today was a better offensive day throughout the game," Bianco said. "We missed the timely hit a few times, but you have to credit (UCLA), too. I thought this was the best pitching staff that we've faced this season. They were a big test for us offensively."

The Rebels, now 13-5 on the season, bounced back in a hurry from Saturday's 7-6 heartbreaking loss. After Bukvich allowed nothing in the top of the first inning, Ole Miss put up two runs in the bottom of the first and appeared to be primed for more.

Jordan Henry walked and Justin Henry singled to put runners on. Zack Cozart was hit by a pitch, and with the bases loaded C.J. Ketchum doubled to score the Henry brothers. Bruin starter Gavin Brooks got two strikeouts after that to end the Rebel threat.

Zach Miller doubled in the bottom of the second and was sac bunted to third by Brett Basham. A Jordan Henry ground out scored Miller.

The Rebels added a run in the bottom of the sixth on a double to the wall by Justin Henry as Miller scored from first after he reached on a base hit.

Justin Henry led the Rebel offensive attack, going 4-for-4 on the day with an RBI and a run scored.

"I struggled some early in the season," Justin said, "but I didn't panic. I just tried to do what I always do. It's starting to come around for me, and I'm hitting the ball now the way I like to hit the ball."

Ketchum said the Rebel bats appear to be coming alive now.

"The offense is starting to pick it up a little bit," said Ketchum, 1-for-3 with two RBI. "Our pitching has been there all season. They've done a great job. Offensively we're becoming more consistent and playing with more confidence. We're becoming a more complete team every day."

Miller and Cody Overbeck both went 2-for-4 on the day.

Brooks, relieved in the sixth by Kevin Brophy, got the loss to fall to 1-2.

Bianco said the UCLA series was precisely what the Rebels needed with SEC play beginning at Vanderbilt in five days.

"Without a doubt," he said. "You play these type series to get you ready for conference play in the best league in college baseball. I know the fans were excited about it. We had great crowds and good weather. This weekend certainly had an SEC feel to it."

Ketchum agreed.

"This was a big series for us," he said. "We've been looking toward this for a year. We went out there (to Los Angeles) and had a rough weekend last season (going 1-2). They're a quality team, and they'll be around at the end of the year."

The Rebels play at Arkansas State Tuesday at 6 p.m.

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