In their last tune-up before Southeastern Conference play cranks up next weekend, the Ole Miss Rebels dominated the Eastern Illinois Panthers in all three games and phases, capped off by a 7-3 win on Sunday. Ole Miss outscored EIU 18-5 on the weekend, continued to blister the baseball as a team, and throw it well, too.
Ryan Rolison, Brady Feigl, and James McArthur all did their thing and earned the win while the offense was led by Thomas Dillard, Chase Cockrell, and the rest of the offense have shown the ability to not only drive the baseball this year, but they’re getting that big hit that they were not able to get last season.
Rolison and Feigl: business as usual.
The Friday and Saturday starters were electric. Plain and simple. The two are a combined 7-1 on the season and both are sporting earned run averages under 2.30 on the young season. After a sloppy outing in Long Beach, Rolison came back with a vengeance this weekend, throwing 7.0 innings (longest outing of the year), scattered six hits, and striking out eight.
Game two was a damn clinic. Despite giving up eight hits, Torch was in command throughout the evening and his secondary stuff was outstanding. He pitched 7.0 innings as well and struck out seven, most coming via the offspeed stuff. Brady’s slider was on display Friday night and if he can command that pitch in any count all season, folks are going to have a tough time doing much of anything against him.
The offense is clicking.
The team is hitting .047 points higher than last season already and it is thanks in large part to being patient at the dish. From top to bottom, everyone in the lineup is working the count, being selective in plus counts, and battling when down in the count. A year removed from their roller coaster freshman seasons, Thomas Dillard (.340, 4 HR, 12 RBI), Grae Kessinger (.333, .460 slugging, 10 RBI), and Cooper Johnson (.290, 2 HR, 6 RBI) are all hitting night and day better than their younger selves from last season.
Even better, Dillard, Johnson, Chase Cockrell, Nick Fortes, and Cole Zabowski all already have at least two home runs and are driving balls into gaps. If the Rebs are going to make noise in the SEC and beyond, they need the aforementioned names to continue to hit for power and stay hot.
Chase Cockrell is on fire.
It probably won’t last, but the second year removed from a Mississippi junior college has been good to Cocky. He is hitting .516 with three home runs, four doubles, eight runs batted in, and is slugging at a .935(!) clip. He played in all three games this weekend and quite frankly, he should. Unless someone else proves they can do better then he needs to be in the lineup.
Cockrell has been hitting down in the bottom of the lineup, usually in the eight spot. Some of you might remember a former Rebel who enjoyed tremendous success in the eight spot. Mark Wright started out in the lower third of the lineup and Mike Bianco left him there despite tremendous success and his tear continued. In 2006, he hit .305, knocked 16 home runs, and drove in 79(!) runs. He even broke the SEC Tournament record for RBI’s long-held by Alabama’s Dave Magadan. If Cockrell can sniff that, the Rebs will be in good shape.