Blistering Performance

As Ryan Verdugo finished his off his mastery of the Rebel offense Sunday, the junior immediately turned and –just for a few brief seconds- stared at the verdict on the Swayze Field scoreboard beyond center field.

Considering Verdugo wasn't aware he was starting for injured ace Jared Bradford until 10 minutes before the first pitch, a little time to pause and reflect is understandable.

The brief time to prepare was about as much worry as the Ole Miss offense.

Verdugo (6-2) quickly warmed and then proceeded to silence the Rebels (24-12, 9-6) for a complete-game, three-hit effort that propelled the Tigers (22-13, 6-9) to an emphatic 8-2 victory to salvage the final game of the series before a Swayze Field crowd of 4,902.

No. 18 Ole Miss took the first two games and was the only Western Division team to take a series this weekend. LSU is now three games back of the Rebels. The loss broke Ole Miss' nine-game winning streak, its second of that season that length.

Bradford injured his shin last weekend against Alabama and developed a blister on his throwing hand while warming up to face the Rebels. The untimely setback came at just the right time for LSU.

Verdugo, who is normally a starting pitcher, struckout two, walked two and forced multiple pop-ups and weak fly balls by keeping Ole Miss off balance and getting ahead in the count early.

"I'm almost speechless," Tiger coach Paul Mainieri said. "I don't know if I have ever seen anything like this. I've been keeping the team's chins up by telling them we had Bradford going today. And then minutes before the game, the guy can't pitch. Then, you get a complete game three-hitter in his place. When do you see that?"

Topping out in the high 80s, Verdugo changed speeds with his fastball and unleashed a yo-yo-like changeup for variety. The Rebels had been struggling with offspeed pitches but saw only three all day.

"I made sure to get ahead and keep it down," Verdugo said. "The fastball was located well and the changeup was on. That was enough today."

On the other side of things, Cody Satterwhite struggled with location and was battered with two solo shots by the LSU hitters. The junior took the loss after going 5.1 innings and suffering nine hits and four runs. Satterwhite (3-2) struckout four and walked one.

"I don't think Cody pitched that poorly," Mike Bianco said. "He gave up the home runs and some hits, but the early balls weren't hit that hard.

"The streak had to end sometime, but hopefully we will be consistent for a while and not just in the middle of winning streaks."

Scott Bittle made his second appearance of the weekend in relief, but the high-profile junior suffered his worst outing of the year. Bittle was banged around for four runs (three earned) and four hits in three innings.

Brett Bukvich was perfect in recording the final two outs of the day.

LSU littered the Rebels with runs in six different innings on 13 total hits. Matt Gibbs led the Tigers with three hits and four RBI.

Ole Miss scored individual runs in the fourth and fifth innings but went scoreless the rest of the day.

Logan Power hit a solo shot in the fourth, and Brett Basham knocked a one-out single to score Jordan Henry in the fifth. Henry reached on a walk and advanced to second when Sean Stuyverson was hit by a pitch.

Cody Overbeck picked up the Rebels' other hit.

Ole Miss returns to action Tuesday when the Rebels and Mississippi State meet at 6:30 p.m. in Pearl for the second annual Governor's Cup.

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