Rebels Drop Tight Battle with Kentucky, 4-2
Chase Cockrell stretches to get the out at first (Photo by Britney Howard)
March 24, 2017

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 11 Ole Miss baseball team hit a pair of home runs, but it wasn’t enough as No. 19 Kentucky evened the series by a 4-2 margin Friday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium. Ryan Olenek and Chase Cockrell homered for the Rebels (15-8, 3-2 SEC), but two errors helped the Wildcats (17-7, 4-1 SEC) plate a pair of runs for the difference in the game.

Four of the Rebels’ seven hits went for extra bases. Along with the solo home runs by Olenek and Cockrell, Tate Blackman and Colby Bortles added doubles. Bortles led way at the plate throughout the night, going 2-for-4.

Ole Miss starting pitcher David Parkinson was efficient for the third straight outing. Despite not factoring in the decision, the southpaw allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits and a walk to go along with five strikeouts in 6.1 innings. Parkinson surrendered his first earned run through 20.1 frames over his last three starts.

Designated hitter Evan White went 3-for-4, while Riley Mahan added a pair of hits as well for Kentucky. Zach Logue (4-1) earned the win in 7.0 innings of work, giving up two runs on six hits, including a pair of homers. UK closer Logan Sallow (5) pitched the final two innings to collect the save.

A solo home run by third baseman Luke Heyer led off the second inning, putting the Wildcats on the board. However, the damage was limited as Parkinson worked out of a big jam. Following the homer, back-to-back singles put runners on the corners with nobody out as head coach Mike Bianco headed out to talk to his starting pitcher. After the meeting on the mound, Parkinson locked in to strike out Zach Reks for the first out. Then, Blackman made a diving stop up the middle and flipped to shortstop Grae Kessinger, who rifled the ball to first to complete the 4-6-3 double play. The three outs on two plays got Ole Miss out of the inning, trailing only by a single run due to the homer.

The game remained a pitcher’s duel as Parkinson and Logue threw up zeroes in the next three innings. Closing out the fifth, Parkinson struck out the side to keep the Rebels one swing away from tying the game. That swing came in the next half inning as Olenek belted a deep fly to left field. The solo home run squared the game at one run apiece. Unfortunately, the tie didn’t last long as a sacrifice fly in the bottom half of the frame gave the lead right back to Kentucky, 2-1.

For the second inning in a row, the Kentucky lead evaporated thanks to an Ole Miss home run. Once again, with one out and the Rebels trailing by a lone run, Cockrell sent a moonshot off the scoreboard in left-center field to bring the game to a 2-2 standstill. The similarities between the two innings continued as the Wildcats grabbed control of the game with another run in the bottom of the seventh. Following a single and a failed pickoff attempt, a double brought a Wildcat home. Through seven innings, UK held a 3-2 advantage.

The home team added another run, scoring for the third consecutive inning and doubling its lead. In the ninth, Salow returned to complete the six-out save and force a series-deciding game three on Saturday.

Ole Miss will look to claim the road series with a victory in the rubber match tomorrow morning (March 25). The Rebels and Wildcats will conclude the three-game set at 11 a.m. CT on SEC Network. Mike Morgan and Mike Rooney have the call for the nationally televised contest, while David Kellum and Keith Kessinger provide the coverage on the Ole Miss IMG Sports Network. Freshman Will Ethridge will make his second consecutive weekend start, going up against UK pitcher Justin Lewis. 

Quick Hits

  • Tonight’s game snapped a seven-game winning streak against Kentucky.
  • The Rebels dropped to 9-5 versus ranked teams this season.
  • With a ground-rule double in the first, Tate Blackman increased his reached base streak to 16 games.
  • Ryan Olenek hit a solo shot in the sixth, his first home run of the season, and became the 12th Rebel to homer in 2017.
  • It’s the first time since 2009 that 12 different Rebels have homered in a single season.
  • Chase Cockrell belted his second homer of the year.

 

 

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