Senior Scott Bittle notched a career-high 13 strikeouts with a complete game of three-hit baseball, while shortstop Kevin Mort had three RBI on two hits and a steal, as No. 15 Ole Miss topped Kentucky 8-0 Sunday afternoon.
With the win, the Rebels claimed a three-game sweep over the visiting Wildcats (18-12, 4-8) and now hold a 22-8 overall record and 8-4 mark in conference play.
"It was just a really good game by Scott (Bittle)," said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. "He was terrific today. It was another good day offensively against a staff I consider one of the best in the Southeastern Conference. We got some big hits, some homers and some hits with two outs to extend the lead."
Bittle, who entered the day sporting an ERA of 3.06, was electric yet again in his second Sunday start of the year.
He was perfect through the first four innings, not allowing a hit until Andy Burns singled to left field with two outs in the fifth. It was the Wildcats' first of the game, with Kentucky only notching two more in the loss.
The ninth ended in epic fashion, with Bittle grabbing his career-high 13th strikeout against pinch hitter Cody Farris to finish it. Met on the mound by his teammates and receiving a standing ovation from the 5,715 fans in attendance, the senior has now totaled 42 strikeouts on the year, while walking only 13.
"I was a little fatigued," Bittle said of entering the ninth inning. "My adrenaline took over and carried me. I felt I could throw anything in the zone today. Whatever I needed, it was there."
After allowing one hit with 10 strikeouts in seven innings against No. 2 LSU a week earlier, Bittle ran his overall record to 2-2 on the year. Over his last 16 innings, Bittle has totaled 23 strikeouts, four hits and no earned runs.
"There weren't many balls hit off Scott," Bianco said. "He was that dominant. He mixed in a few fastballs, but his cutter and changeup were terrific today. He was in the zone all day long. When he's like that, it's really difficult. You could tell by the swings, he can make life miserable for hitters."
To date, the RHP has allowed only 14 hits and six earned runs in 25.2 innings of work in 2009. Not bad for a pitcher who still considers himself a reliever.
"They both have their benefits, but I'm still a bullpen guy," said Bittle of the difference between relieving and starting. "As far as I'm concerned, I'm just out there in the first inning."
In the home-half of the second inning, senior Kyle Henson got the scoring started. Henson sent a 2-0 pitch well over the right field wall for an early 1-0 Rebel lead. Matt Smith and Zach Miller followed with singles, before Mort sent a hot-shot down the third base line to score the runners.
The Rebels picked up two more in the bottom of the fifth, as a Jordan Henry infield single would prove costly for the Wildcats. Designated hitter Taylor Hashman followed with a towering shot to right-center, plating both he and Henry for a 5-0 Rebel lead.
Ole Miss tacked on another in the sixth, with Mort scoring Basham from third after the Rebel catcher led off the inning with the single.
It was third run driven in by Mort, who continues with his hot hitting for the year.
"I feel confident at the plate," Mort said. "I've worked on some things and it turned out well for me today. There were some runners in scoring position when I was up and I just tried to drive them in."
Leading 6-0, Matt Snyder added a homerun to the opposing bullpen in the bottom of the seventh, followed by a David Phillips walk to keep the inning rolling. After pinch runner Michael Hubbard stole second, Matt Smith drove him in with a single through the middle for the final run of the game.
Bittle's 13 strikeouts for the day topped his previous career high of 12 against Missouri in 2008. The win marked the first shutout for Bittle in his career.
The weekend sweep of the Wildcats was the first for Ole Miss against a SEC foe since taking three over Vanderbilt last season.
The Rebels return to action Tuesday as they play host to New Orleans at 6:30 p.m.
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