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No. 22 Ole Miss pushes past Memphis

172 days ago
Ole Miss Athletics
Photo: Ole Miss Athletics

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Chase Cockrell had a happy birthday, going 3-for-5 with two doubles and two clutch ninth-inning RBI as No. 22 Ole Miss topped Memphis, 9-6, on the road at AutoZone Park Tuesday night.

Cockrell just missed his first home run of the season, cracking a double off the top of the left field wall in the fifth inning. Then, with the Rebels (18-8, 3-3) clinging to a one-run lead in the top of the ninth, he ripped another double down the left field line to score two, giving Ole Miss the insurance it needed to close out the win. Meanwhile, Tyler Myers came through as the linchpin out of the Rebel bullpen, turning in a career-high 3.0 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit while striking out three to earn his first career win. Parker Caracci closed out the victory, striking out one in one scoreless inning to earn his fifth save of the season.

The Ole Miss bats claimed an early lead. Thomas Dillard started it off with a rocket line drive single off the right field wall, and Ryan Olenek brought him home when his line drive his landed in the right field corner for his first career triple. The rally continued as Kevin Graham walked and Chase Cockrell singled through the left side. Tim Elko brought home the third run, ripping a single through the right side to bring Graham home. With two outs, some creative baserunning made it a four-run inning for Ole Miss. Elko attempted to steal second but stopped halfway and drew a throw from the Memphis catcher. The ensuing rundown allowed Cockrell to race home for the fourth run before Elko was tagged out.

Memphis swung right back, though. Starter Jordan Fowler started his outing off strong, striking out batters for all three outs in the first inning. He fanned one more in the second, but a bases-loaded, base-clearing double, followed by another double to tie it up brought Taylor Broadway out of the bullpen. Broadway escaped the jam and put together a strong performance, going 2.1 innings, allowing no runs on four hits and one walk.

The Tigers threatened, loading the bases with one out in the third, but Anthony Servideo made a terrific defensive play, snaring a line drive at second base and flipping to Grae Kessinger for an easy double play to end the inning.

The Rebels took that momentum into the fourth and put up another crooked number. Kevin Graham led it off with a single, a pair of walks to Servideo and Kessinger loaded the bases. Tyler Keenan then drew a walk for his 40th RBI of the season, and Dillard drove home two more with a single up the middle, giving Ole Miss a 7-4 lead.

Broadway's successful outing ended in the fifth, and Tyler Myers picked up where he left off, striking out two of the first three batters he faced for a one-two-three fifth inning. Myers again retired the Tigers in order again in the sixth, showing off his defensive skills in the process. On the third out, Cole Zabowski was drawn far off his bag by a ground ball, forcing him to make a long throw to Myers, who outran Memphis center fielder Colton Neel to the bag for the third out.

In the seventh, he overcame a leadoff triple to preserve the three-run lead, using a strikeout and two strong defensive plays by Keenan at third, bringing an end to an excellent outing: 3.0 innings with just one hit and no walks allowed, striking out three along the way.

Memphis got two back in the eighth after a pair of singles off of freshman left-hander Kaleb Hill. Junior right-hander Austin Miller came on to relieve Hill and Memphis sent another triple into the right field corner, cutting it to one, 7-6.

Ole Miss had no trouble getting those two runs back in the ninth. Dillard reached on an error and Olenek was hit by a pitch, then the two moved into scoring position on a Zabowski groundout. Cockrell cashed in, ripping a ball down the left field line to bring two runners home and make it a 9-6 Rebel advantage.

Memphis had one last push for the Rebels, knocking a pair of singles back up the middle on Caracci, but the All-American did what he does best, using a strikeout, foul out and comebacker to lock down the win and earn his 15th career save.

With the road win in their back pocket, the Rebels now return to the Southeastern Conference slate. Ole Miss travels to No. 8 Arkansas for three this weekend, beginning with an 8 p.m. CT first pitch Friday on ESPNU.

Quick Hits

- Ole Miss improved to 18-8 on the season.

- Ole Miss improved to 12-6 at AutoZone Park. The Rebels have outscored the Tigers 122-58 in 18 meetings.

- On his birthday, Chase Cockrell went 3-for-5 with two doubles and two RBI. - Cockrell's three hits came as a season-high and tied his career-high.

- Ryan Olenek recorded his first career triple. He's the fifth Rebel with a triple this season.

- With five triples on the season, the Rebels are just one shy of their season total (6) from 2018.

- Tyler Myers has thrown six straight scoreless innings with just two hits allowed in that span.

- Myers earned his first career win, going 3.0 innings with no runs allowed on one hit with no walks and three strikeouts.

- It was Myers' longest outing of the season, and his three strikeouts tied a career-best.

- Parker Caracci earned his 15th career save to move to a tie for eighth in program history.

- Tyler Keenan upped his SEC-leading RBI total to 40.

- Grae Kessinger has reached base in 14 straight games.

- Ryan Olenek is on an eight-game hitting streak. He has hits in 24 of 26 games this season.