Bearkats buried: Rebs roll into Supers

Ole Miss (40-23) blistered the Sam Houston State (39-24) bullpen to come-from-behind on two different occasions and sweep the Oxford Regional with a 21-13 victory on Sunday. The Rebels haven't lost a Regional game since 2004- a streak of nine straight contests, and the 21 runs are the most the program has ever scored during NCAA play.

With the win, Ole Miss awaits its Super Regional opponent and will try to break through after falling one game short the last two seasons. National seed Arizona State is the favorite to host the Rebels next weekend, but two Nebraska victories over the Sun Devils would bring the event to Oxford.

"Our goals are bigger," Justin Henry said. "We want to have that dogpile next week that we haven't been able to get the last two years. That is the one that really means everything. We're very excited, but we want that one next week. The one that sends us to Omaha."

Sam Houston State expended a great deal of energy during a 12-11, 11-inning win over Southern Miss earlier in the day, but the Bearkats were able to carry the momentum over into the early part of the doubleheader.

SHSU combined two hits with two Rebel errors in the first inning to strike for three runs and shake Ole Miss starter Scott Bittle. But as was the theme of the night, the top seed didn't trail for long.

The Rebels doubled up the Bearkats with six runs after batting around in the bottom half. The advantage increased a run in the second with a Zach Miller home run, but things unraveled quickly during the fourth for Bittle.

Sam Houston State caught up with the sophomore for five more runs (three earned) to take the lead and chase Bittle with two outs.

Craig Rodriguez (2-2) entered in relief and stranded two runners with a big strikeout to end the threat. The left-hander worked a total of 3.1 innings and picked up the victory by only allowing one run.

"It was a situation to come in and get some outs and stop Sam Houston's momentum," Rodriguez said. "When you start hitting the ball, it becomes contagious. I came in and tried to limit their opportunities. I was able to do that tonight."

That he did, but run support would also come quickly to help lessen the stress for the senior.

Bearkat Jim Bob Farris took the mound for the bottom of the fourth and was promptly knocked off of it. The righty didn't record an out before being tagged for six runs and victimized by his defense with three errors. Zac Baker relieved Farris, but he didn't fare better. In all, nine Rebels crossed the plate as Ole Miss again doubled up SHSU, 16-8, heading to the fifth inning.

"22 hits makes up for a lot of struggles we had defensively," Mike Bianco said. "My thought was that, although we didn't play great baseball and gave up so many runs, when we were putting up runs like we were and responding to runs scored against us, that tonight would be a special night. It was a great night offensively."

The final five innings were a mere formality with Ole Miss plating five more runs and getting two pitchers some work before next weekend. Nathan Baker and Cody Satterwhite completed the eighth and ninth frames respectively. Satterwhite was saddled with three runs on four straight hits, but he regrouped and ended the game with two strikeouts.

Catcher Alex Kliman topped the offensive Rebel attack with four hits and five RBI.

Justin Henry also accumulated four hits, while Miller and Zack Cozart each tallied three hits.

The flawless tournament was the first time this season that Ole Miss has swept a weekend. Adversity has been present at times, but the Rebels are once again two wins from a major goal.

"I'm so proud of this program to be in this situation for the third straight year," Bianco said. "I'm proud of this team. Expectations were so high going into this season, but these guys have been able to respond to those expectations even in the down times. Our leadership through Zack Cozart and Justin Henry kept us together. This a trying year for us with all the tough games, but at the end of the day, we are going to the Super Regional."

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