OXFORD, Miss. — No. 5 Ole Miss trounced No. 16 Auburn, 8-3, on Friday night to capture the series win with one more game to play on Saturday. The win marks head coach Mike Bianco’s 700th career win at Ole Miss and his 800th overall as a collegiate head coach.
(Click here for box score.)
This was a must-win series for the Rebels, and they responded. This series is sure to be a boost for the team’s resume heading into postseason.
Ole Miss’ Brady Feigl started the game on the mound and notched one of his best performances of the year. He set a new career-high for strikeouts with 12 and allowed the Tigers only 9 hits and three earned runs in 8.0 innings.
The combination of Feigl and Ryan Rolison will be crucial for the Rebels heading into postseason play.
“He was lights out,” Bianco said of Feigl.
“Tremendous slider, made pitches with his fastball when he needed to and some really good changeups. (It was) as sharp as he has been all year.”
Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco on pitcher Brady Feigl
Ole Miss claimed the lead early once again, this time in the second inning. The Rebs scored three in the second, capped off by a two-run Chase Cockrell homer, his eighth of the year. Cockrell now sits in second place for total home runs on the team, trailing only Thomas Dillard and Nick Fortes who are tied for the lead with 11 apiece.
“We’ve talked all year about the offense and how well the offense has played,” Bianco said. “One of the things we haven’t talked much about is Mike Clement and what a great job he has done with it.”
Tyler Keenan, in the midst of a phenomenal freshman campaign, found more success on Friday. He went 3-4 on the night with four RBI and a home run. His home run in the fifth gave Ole Miss a 5-1 lead, and he will, no doubt, be a key part of the Rebels’ quest for Omaha.
Tyler Keenan went 3-4 with a home run and 4 RBI in the Rebels’ 8-3 game-two win over Auburn! Hear what he had to say after Ole Miss clinched the series. (Video: Justin Dial, The Rebel Walk) #HottyToddy 🔴⚾️🔵 pic.twitter.com/BvFoNgGsvD
— The Rebel Walk (@TheRebelWalk) May 12, 2018
“He’s not playing like a freshman,” Feigl said of Keenan.
“He looks so confident up there, and to do what he did tonight against Mize, that was awesome and it makes me really excited about his future.”
Brady Feigl on Ole Miss freshman Tyler Keenan
On Friday night, Auburn trotted out its ace Casey Mize, Keith Law’s projected No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming MLB draft. Mize entered the game with ridiculous numbers–sporting a 2.25 ERA in 84.0 innings of work. Batters were hitting just .167 with Mize on the mound.
Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco and the Rebels have plenty of respect for the Tigers’ ace.
“The thing that we think makes him so special is not only does he have a super fastball that’s 93-96 (mph), which is enough in itself, but when you throw in an 88 mph split-finger ball, a cutter, a slider and a guy that throws a ton of strikes, you end up swinging at pitches out of the zone.”
Coach Bianco on Casey Mize
Fortunately for Ole Miss, Mize didn’t have his best outing. He gave up eight hits and six ER, with two of those being homers, and heard “overrated” chants from the stands in the fourth inning after giving up his second dinger of the night. He was pulled after 5.0 innings.
“The goal was to get to some fastballs,” Bianco said. “You gotta get to the fastball, and will you take the off-speed. It’s tough, but we got some good swings.”
The Rebs added a few insurance runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh with a pair of RBI doubles from Dillard and Keenan, along with a run from an Auburn throwing error that made the score 8-1 in favor of the home team.
The importance of this series can’t be overstated. Ole Miss is coming off a series loss against South Carolina and is trying to position itself for postseason seeding; a win over Auburn helps Ole Miss tremendously.
“(We are) just trying to win games,” Bianco said. “Especially here in the SEC West where it’s so close.”
Ole Miss and Auburn will face off in game three on Saturday at Swayze Field. First pitch is set for 4:00 p.m. (CT).