Rebels use miscues to finish midweek sweep

Published 12:02 pm Thursday, March 17, 2016

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The majority of the non-conference slate is complete, and Ole Miss used its final two games heading into Southeastern Conference play to prove it could score any way it needed to.

The No. 12 Rebels completed the midweek sweep of UAB with a 5-1 win on Wednesday afternoon at Regions Field for their 12th straight win. They are off to their best start in three years since they went 19-1 to begin the 2013 season.

After scoring eight runs on Tuesday, the offense was stifled early as UAB starter Stephen Baggett was able to work around jams. Two times, Ole Miss (17-1) had runners at second and third and both times the Rebels were unable to bring anyone home.

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They struggled in situational hitting, going 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position, while UAB (6-11) was 0-for-7.

While the bats were not working for the Rebels, they were able to score runs off of the Blazers’ miscues. Baggett struggled in the fifth inning. The Rebels plated five runs off of six walks, two wild pitches and a sacrifice fly by Ryan Olenek to retake the lead after UAB went up1-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning.

“One of the things last year’s team didn’t do very well was we didn’t walk, and this team’s been able to do that,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “Normally we’ll get the big hit and the timely hit. Seems like we’ve done that the past 17 games. You’re not always going to get it, but we’ve gotten it a lot. We just needed a few more to really break the game open, but that’s going to happen sometimes.”

Olenek, Tate Blackman and Colby Bortles all recorded an RBI. Bortles went 1-for-3 with a walk while Blackman went 1-for-2 with two walks.

Turning the corner
The beginning of James McArthur’s career at Ole Miss was rocky, but since then, he has righted the ship and Wednesday was no different. The right-hander earned his second win of the season, working five innings and giving up one run on five hits while striking out five and issuing zero walks.

McArthur worked around some trouble in innings to extend his streak of not issuing a walk to 12 innings, where he has also racked up 13 strikeouts.
“Just really trying to fill up the zone and attack early to get ahead early,” McArthur said of what he credits for the better starts. “Work down in the zone and try and command the slider to get it in there. That’s kind of where I struggled with a little bit in the beginning but starting to come back off of that.”

Connor Green came in for relief in the sixth inning and worked two innings of scoreless baseball. Andrew Lowe made his fourth appearance of the season, pitching the final two innings.

The real work now begins for the Rebels as they turn their sights toward SEC play beginning this weekend at Tennessee to complete the five-game road trip. The first game of the series is Friday at 6 p.m.