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Bats get back on track, Ole Miss bombards UAB for 15 runs

OXFORD – Just two days removed from nearly being no-hit, the Rebel bats came alive Friday night. Ole Miss amassed 15 hits in the opener against UAB, piling on a quick nine runs in the second inning to win 15-9.

Ole Miss peppered UAB’s starting pitcher Tanner Graham, who came into the game with an ERA of 1.32 over 13.2 innings. Ole Miss scored one on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the first before pelting Graham for two homers and six runs in the second. He would get pulled after recording just four outs.

Ole Miss sent 14 batters to the plate in the bottom of the second, scoring 9 runs on 9 hits. Seven different Rebels would get a hit in the inning, including home runs from freshman Kevin Graham – his first ever hit as a Rebel – and Cole Zabowski.

“I was just looking for a fastball I could drive,” Graham said. “It’s definitely a relief getting that first hit and what a great way to do it. Really fun.”

Every starter reached base Friday evening, and all but Tyler Keenan recorded a hit. Center fielder Ryan Olenek continued his ridiculously hot start for the season, going three for five with two RBI’s to push his team-leading batting average to .462.

“(Ryan’s) just a guy that, offensively, has done a ton, not just this year, but for the four year’s he’s been here,” said head coach Mike Bianco.

Junior right-hander Will Ethridge was solid as Ole Miss had to work through a series of errors to open the game. The Blazers put three runs on the board in the opening frame, yet not one of them were earned. Errors on Grae Kessinger, Anthony Servideo and Thomas Dillard set up the three early UAB runs.

Ethridge later gave up a solo shot in the top of the third, his only earned run. After the day of 5 innings and one earned run on five hits, his ERA is 0.66 on the season. Ethridge has been fantastic, by far the steadiest arm for the Rebels this year.

“The arm felt great. I didn’t have the strikeout pitch I needed there in some of the innings is kind of a killer,” Ethridge said. “I just tried to fill it up with my fastball and get guys out that way.”

Taylor Broadway came in to relieve Ethridge in the sixth – it wasn’t his best outing. In three innings of work, Broadway allowed three earned runs on three hits. The Blazers hit a home run in each of his first two innings of work. Broadway blanked UAB in his final inning. Freshman Kaleb Hill came in to pitch the ninth, allowing two runs, one earned.

The Rebels return to the diamond Saturday night at 7 p.m.