By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Western Kentucky outfielder Chad Cregar made his first hit of the Oxford Regional a big one.
Cregar’s two-run home run off Ole Miss pitcher Phillip Irwin in the sixth inning put the Hilltoppers on the board and made it a 7-2 game.
“You see this crowd and get anxious. Maybe I was trying to do too much. Then when it was 0-2 he left a change-up up and middle away, and I got something on it,” Cregar said.
It was Cregar’s 18th home run of the year, and hits like that are the reason he believes Western Kentucky is in good position to play itself out of the loser’s bracket and win the regional championship.
The Toppers began Day 2 of the regional hitting .330 with 82 home runs.
“We can swing our way out of anything,” Cregar said. “Our bullpen has been great for us this year, and we have some good arms that haven’t even been out there yet.”
Missouri plays its ace
– Missouri right-hander Kyle Gibson put on a show against Monmouth that Tigers coach Tim Jamieson had hoped would come against Ole Miss.
Jamieson did not pitch Gibson in Friday’s opener, and Western Kentucky took advantage, sending No. 2 seed Missouri into the loser’s bracket.
With a throng of scouts grouped around home plate Saturday, Gibson scattered six hits, walked one and struck out eight to lead Missouri to a 9-0 win.
Gibson’s eight strikeouts tied him for the school’s single-season record of 131.
Today’s pitching matchups
– Left-hander Brett Bukvich (9-3, 4.61) will start for the Rebels regardless of the opponent. Missouri is expected to start senior right-hander Ian Berger (3-3, 5.50) against Western’s Matt Hightower (6-3, 3.92), the Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Year.
– After Friday, the Oxford Regional was second to the Baton Rouge Regional in attendance among the 16 regional sites. Oxford drew 15,323 fans for Friday’s two games. Baton Rouge drew 17,955 for two games.
The Oxford Regional drew another 16,487 fans – including 9,110 for the Ole Miss-Western game – to bring the two-day total to 31,810.