OXFORD, Miss. (WTVA/Ole Miss Athletics) - No. 8 Ole Miss baseball completed its third sweep of the season on Sunday, topping Eastern Illinois with a 7-3 victory. The Ole Miss bats carried the team to victory on a day that saw Chase Cockrell record his first career multi-home run game with a pair of solo shots in later innings. Most everybody got in on the action as well, with eight of the starting nine recording a hit, as well as four with multi-hit days.
James McArthur earned his fourth consecutive Sunday start, going 5.1 innings and allowing just three runs. All of the Panthers' runs came on solo home runs in innings two, four, and five, while McArthur kept Eastern Illinois mostly stifled, with only one hit allowed on top of the home runs.
Thomas Dillard is working his way towards one of the SEC's feared power hitters, with a pair of doubles on the day that just narrowly stayed in the ballpark. Will Golsan and Grae Kessinger also had two hits of their own, while Cockrell tied his career-high with three on the day, his two long balls plus a single.
Ole Miss improves to 15-1 on the year, including a 13-0 record at their home Swayze Field, and completes a weekend non-conference slate that saw the team drop just one game through 16 played.
McArthur came in on the day with the second lowest ERA in the SEC at 0.59, and, except for the three miscues, kept his hot streak going. He opened the game with a three-up, three-down inning and kept up the dominance through five on the mound. In each inning that the Sunday starter allowed a home run, that was the only damage inflicted, and McArthur saw just one other hit land, while he worked towards four strikeouts and just one walk.
After Eastern Illinois took an early 1-0 lead, the Rebels answered in the second and never looked back. Golsan led off the inning with a double, before catcher Cooper Johnson booted him in on an RBI single to knot the game at one.
The second carried on, however, following three consecutive infield singles from the bats of Cockrell, Jacob Adams, and Kessinger to load the bases. Ryan Olenek brought two more home with a two-RBI single up the middle, and the Rebels made it out of the second with a three-run advantage.
Following Eastern Illinois' second solo shot of the day in the fourth, Cockrell responded immediately with a solo bomb of his own, a towering shot that just seemed to carry before exiting over the right field wall.
The fifth began identically, with the Panthers' third home run of the day, but the Rebels kept the runs coming, and the bottom half saw Dillard's first double of the day followed by a Golsan sacrifice fly to neutralize the Panther home run.
Cockrell provided the icing on the cake with his second shot of the day, another solo home run to right, in the sixth inning, and that proved to be all the Rebels needed for the bullpen to shut down the Panther bats. McArthur's day ended early in the sixth, when Will Stokes took the ball out of the bullpen. Stokes went an inning and two-thirds without allowing a baserunner, before turning it over to Parker Caracci. Caracci, making his fifth appearance, needed just an inning, but the redshirt sophomore added to his impressive walk-to-strikeout ratio to give him 15 strikeouts on the year compared to just one walk.
Rebel nation got their first taste of Dallas Woolfolk in a while today, as Woolfolk made his first appearance on the weekend in the ninth. It took the Rebel closer just four batters, and the victory was sealed. The Rebels improve to 15-1 to close out the non-conference slate and finish their second homestand at Swayze perfect yet again.
Ole Miss will be back in action Tuesday at 5 p.m. CT in Atlanta as the Rebels take on Georgia State in a two-game midweek series spanning Tuesday and Wednesday.