June 2, 2006
OXFORD, Miss. -
Seventh-ranked Ole Miss (41-20) got a solid pitching performance out of starter Will Kline and used back-to-back home runs from Justin Brashear and Mark Wright to slide past Bethune-Cookman (30-26) by a score of 3-2 on the opening day of NCAA Tournament play on Friday.
The Rebels, who are hosting an NCAA Regional for the third consecutive season, out-hit the Wildcats eight to six on the way to the win behind the arms of Kline and Garrett White and a rowdy crowd of 7,018.
Kline (5-2) picked up his third straight win as he worked 8.0 innings, allowing two runs on six hits as he walked two and struck out nine. It's the third time this season Kline has tied his career-high with nine strikeouts. White then picked up his ninth save, striking out the side in order to close out the game in the ninth.
R.J. Rodriguez (8-5) suffered the loss for Bethune-Cookman, as he allowed three runs on five hits, two of them solo home runs from Brashear and Wright for the Rebels. Rodriguez struck out three and walked three in the outing.
"It was a great environment out there tonight and the crowd really picked us up," said Kline. "I'm an emotional guy anyway, and to pitch with the crowd behind us like that really makes it easier to compete."
The Rebels put a run on the board as Ole Miss loaded the bases with one out in the second. Evan Button then notched a sac fly to center field to push Logan Power across the plate. Power singled through the left side before moving to third on a double down the right field line from Justin Brashear. Mark Wright then drew a walk to load the bases for Button.
Bethune-Cookman threatened in the fifth when the Wildcats put runners at second and third with two outs, but Kline recorded a strikeout of the next batter to end the inning and keep Bethune-Cookman off the board.
Ole Miss threatened in the sixth when C.J. Ketchum ripped a shot down the right field line with Alex Presley at second. The play was for naught as the shot down the line was ruled foul and Presley was forced to return to second. Ketchum then grounded out and the next batter struck out to end the inning and leave the Rebels holding a one run lead.
The Wildcats put runners at the corners with one out in the seventh as Alejandro Jiminez singled through the left side and then advanced to third on a single to right field from Rob Caruso. Jiminez then scored on a single through the right side by Colin Irvine to even the score at one and leave runners at the corners. Spencer Hill then doubled to left center to drive in Caruso, as Irvine was thrown out at third trying to advance from first on the play. Kline then struck out the next batter to end the inning with the Wildcats now leading 2-1.
Just like in the Mississippi State game at the end of the regular season, Brashear and Wright hit back-to-back home runs to open the seventh and put the Rebels back on top of the Wildcats 3-2. Bethune-Cookman then went to the bullpen, pulling in Francisco Rodriguez to relieve starter R.J. Rodriguez. The Wildcats got out of the inning as Justin Henry, who reached on a single and advanced on a balk, was thrown out at third on a steal attempt. Chris Coghlan was then thrown out at second attempting to stretch a single to center into a double to end the inning.
White entered the game in the ninth inning in relief of Kline. White then struck out the side in order to end the game and give the Rebels the win.
Ole Miss will take on South Alabama at 5 p.m. on Saturday.