OXFORD, Miss. – After defeating Eastern Illinois in two contests on Friday, Ole Miss capped off the series with a 7-3 win to complete the sweep.
(Click here for box score.)
The Rebels, after not falling behind at any point in the first two games, finally conceded a lead in game three when Eastern Illinois’ Dougie Parks sent a ball into the stands to leadoff the second inning.
The EIU lead, however, was short-lived.
Rebels’ head coach Mike Bianco has been vocal about the importance of being able to manufacture hits and runs with two outs, and his team has responded well. In the bottom half of the second inning, Ole Miss managed to score four runs, all with two outs on the board that gave the Rebels a 4-1 lead.
“I think the big question mark was [if we could hit], because of last year, not so much because of us internally,” Bianco said. “We thought we could hit, but because of last year that was the big label on us. It’s not a surprise for us.”
After another Eastern Illinois solo homer, the Ole Miss lead sat at two runs. Then Chase Cockrell decided he wanted in on the fun.
Cockrell came into Sunday’s action with one home run on the year but tripled that in just one game. He smashed a solo dinger in the fourth to give Ole Miss a 5-2 lead and followed that up with another in the seventh. He finished Sunday with an absurd stat line, going 3-3 at the plate, two home runs and three runs scored.
“He’s getting a lot of good swings off,” Bianco said.
“When he gets his good swing off you can see magic happens.”
Ole Miss head coach Bianco on Chase Cockrell
Even with Ole Miss having a productive offensive output, Eastern Illinois just wouldn’t go away in this one. They hit their third solo shot of the afternoon in the fifth, but it wouldn’t be enough to overcome the Rebels’ seven runs, something that pleased Bianco.
“Every time they scored we were able to answer back, that kinda keeps the momentum going in the dugout. That’s a sign of a good club.”
Coach Mike Bianco
Chase Cockrell was obviously the player of the game, but Thomas Dillard recorded another great performance. Dillard went 2-4 at the plate with both of his hits being doubles, and he also scored the run in the fifth to go up 6-3.
“He’s [Dillard] always going to be a force in our lineup,” Bianco said.
Pitcher James McArthur earned his fourth consecutive Sunday start and went 5.1 innings, allowing just three runs–solo home runs in the second, fourth, and fifth inning. Otherwise, McArthur only allowed one hit in addition to the homers.
Closer Dallas Woolfolk entered the game for the Rebels in the ninth, only facing four EIU batters before the game was over.
Ole Miss finishes the week 5-0 after two midweek wins and three against Eastern Illinois, and the Rebels are now 13-0 at home and 15-1 overall, heading into a pair of games against Georgia State on the road.
“I just think we’ve played well for the first four weeks,” Bianco said. “I’m happy with the way we’re playing and I want to continue to play at a high pace like that.”