By Parrish Alford
OXFORD – The laws of physics weren’t working for Ole Miss Sunday, but the law of averages turned the Rebels’ way.
Hard-hit balls that didn’t drop in green space or didn’t have enough oomph to get out finally did, as the No. 16-ranked Rebels rallied from an 8-7 deficit with a three-run eighth and defeated Vanderbilt 10-8 before a crowd of 8,221 at Swayze Field.
Ole Miss scored six runs in the first 23 innings of the weekend but scored seven in their last three at-bats to clinch the opening series.
The Rebels (14-6, 2-1 SEC) trailed 8-7 when they got a solo home run from Colby Bortles and RBI hits from Chase Cockrell and Nick Fortes in the eighth.
“We had to score eventually. We were waiting for that big hit, that big double in the gap to clear the bases. We just kept at it, kept putting things together, having good quality AB’s, and it worked for us,” Bortles said.
The Rebels and Commodores (13-8, 1-2 SEC) combined to use 12 pitchers, seven of them by Vanderbilt.
The first three Ole Miss pitchers were freshmen including starter Will Ethridge, who allowed five earned runs 3 1-3 innings in his first weekend start. He had allowed only two earned runs in 15 2-3 innings previously.
Bortles no-doubt shot into the left field party section came against right-hander Penn Murfee, Vanderbilt’s fifth pitcher. Murfee also walked Will Golsan, who scored from first when Cockrell’s line drive reached the right field corner.
Cockrell, a junior college transfer from Hinds, hit well early in the season but had just one hit in his 14 most recent at-bats when he went to the plate. He was looking fastball all the way.
“(Murfee) wasn’t confident in his slider. I just looked fastball and was willing to adjust,” Cockrell said.
The Rebels finished with 10 hits, two each by Bortles, Golsan and Tim Rowe, a new addition to the lineup at designated hitter. Rowe, the former Itawamba Community College standout, had a solo home run in the seventh.
Vanderbilt also had 10 hits, three by center fielder Jeren Kendall, its leadoff man.
“It was nice to win, but to win this way, where we didn’t pitch well and we needed (our) offense to stay in game like that,” Bianco said. “Outs were hard to come by for both teams.”
Ole Miss 10, Vanderbilt 8
Vanderbilt 101 301 200 – 8 10 2
Ole Miss 200 013 13X – 10 10 1
WP: Dallas Woolfolk (1-1). LP: Penn Murfee (0-1). Multiple Hits: (VU) Jeren Kendall 3, Reed Hayes, Julian Infante, J.J. Bleday. (OM) Colby Bortles, Will Golsan, Tim Rowe. 2B: (VU) Infante, Ethan Paul. (OM) Chase Cockrell. 3B: (VU) Kendall. HR: (VU) Bleday. (OM) Bortles. DP: Vanderbilt 1. LOB: Vanderbilt 9, Ole Miss 11. T: 4:11. A: 8,221. Records: Ole Miss 14-6, 2-1 SEC; Vanderbilt 13-8, 1-2 SEC.