OXFORD, Miss. - Junior Zack Phillips turned in his best outing to date since arriving in Oxford, and the No. 13 Ole Miss Rebels were able to take care of UAB, 13-4, for their third consecutive series victory. Ole Miss improved to 11-3 on the season and will wrap up the nonconference weekend slate tomorrow without dropping a series, with wins over Tulane, Long Beach State, and UAB (and a split season opener against Wright State).
The Rebels will head into conference play next week with a few solid series victories and some newfound excitement about their Saturday starter in Phillips.
Ole Miss put up double-digit runs in back-to-back games for the first time this season, and the Rebel bats were back at it again today with all but one starter entering the box score with either a hit or run. Ole Miss was able to score in all but three innings and cruised to an easy Saturday night victory over the Blazers.
Phillips, in his fourth career start, set new career bests in both innings pitched and strikeouts, going a full 7.0 innings on the mound with an equal seven strikeouts tonight. He allowed just one earned run on a solo homer in the third inning. The Saturday starter has continued to progress throughout the season, posting better numbers in each and every start.
Thomas Dillard ensured that his hitting streak of 16 games would stay alive with a single today, but he was hardly the commander of an offensive onslaught today. Cole Zabowski finished the game 3-for-4 with a double, a run and four RBI, two of which came on a two-run double in the fourth inning.
Tyler Keenan, the RBI machine, continued to work his magic with a two-run home run in the third inning, for his team-leading 24th and 25th RBI on the year. He came into the series fifth in the nation in RBI, and has since collected three more this weekend. With his homer, as well, Keenan has put himself one behind Dillard for most on the team with five long balls this year.
A first-inning error by the Rebel defense turned into the Blazers' first run of the game, but it wouldn't matter for long, as the Rebel bats would ensure that UAB was going to need far more than one run to keep this ballgame close.
The Rebels plated three in the bottom of the third, the first of which came on a Cooper Johnson RBI double over the head of the third baseman. Johnson would record the Rebels' second run of the day on a wild pitch, while Jacob Adams added an RBI after scoring Kevin Graham on a groundout.
One inning later, the Rebels claimed an 8-1 lead after a five-run third inning. Keenan's two-run homer got the party started, but Zabowski, Johnson, and Grae Kessinger would all add RBI in the inning to ensure the Rebels had a handy lead after three complete.
Ole Miss reached double digits in the fourth, as Zabowski's double sent two more to the plate, and the Rebels sent Phillips back out with a comfortable 10-2 lead after the end of the fourth inning.
The Rebels would go on to plate runs in the sixth and seventh innings, as head coach Mike Bianco allowed some bats off the bench to get in on the action that ultimately helped account for the Rebels' thirteen runs on the day.
Tyler Myers entered after Phillips closed out the seventh at 91 pitches, and, after an early two-run home run in the eighth, was able to cruise to two otherwise flawless innings with a pair of strikeouts.
The Rebels will go for the sweep tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. CT against UAB, before taking off for a two-game midweek trip to Louisville next week.