Back on Track

The scoring slumber that enveloped No. 5 Ole Miss for the majority of its past four games finally lifted Tuesday versus Western Kentucky. The Rebels went passively for two innings, but a breakout third frame ended the drought and also the Hilltoppers' chance at an upset.

Six Ole Miss hits surfaced during the pivotal inning, keyed by a Michael Guerrero home run, as the Rebels put up six runs and coasted to a 10-3 victory over Western Kentucky before an announced crowd of 4,160.

"We have hit a home run in every game except for the TCU series," Guerrero said. "It is definitely good to get back home. We are a confident team and know we can string hits together. When we lose, we don't go in a shell. We are going to come back swinging."

Phillip Irwin (2-1) secured the win with six innings of work, allowing just one earned run while walking two and striking out one. The two free passes were the first two hitters of the game. WKU (6-5) pushed across two more unearned after Logan Power dropped a fly ball in the fifth inning.

After Irwin was pulled, the bullpen combination of Jake Morgan and closer Justin Cryer silenced the Hilltoppers over the final three innings. Morgan pitched two scoreless innings, scattering two hits, while Cryer surrendered one hit in the ninth. Both relief hurlers struckout two batters.

"The bullpen just continues to be spectacular," Mike Bianco said. "Jake Morgan performs every time he is called on by just filling up the zone and locating. I thought Phillip did a good job of throwing ground balls after a shaky start."

The normal middle-infield combination of Evan Button and Zach Miller had the night off, but replacements Tim Ferugson and Sean Stuyverson turned three double plays. Miller fouled a pitch off his foot Sunday but is expected to start Wednesday.

Ferguson helped in the middle defensively and at the plate. The freshman made the most of his first career start with three hits, a RBI and three runs scored.

"I hope I am back out here soon," Ferguson soon. "I was really comfortable at the plate and in the field. It was nice to get out there for a complete game."

Rye Davis suffered the loss after allowing six earned runs in three innings.

Catcher Brett Basham also accumulated three hits and threw out a runner attempting to steal second.

Ole Miss' ten runs came on ten hits with the six in the third and three in the eighth.

"We were able to bunch the hits together," Bianco said. "That is the mark of a good offense. The team was very efficient tonight. Not just that we scored but how we scored them."

The Rebels conclude the two-game set with Western Kentucky Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. Brett Bukvich will get the nod for Ole Miss, while the Hilltoppers pitcher is to be announced.

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