Vandy's Crowell blanks Ole Miss

Zack Cozart at the plate

They say splitting a doubleheader is like kissing your sister. It was a little worse for Ole Miss Saturday night. Sophomore southpaw Cody Crowell pitched a complete-game, two-hit shutout and propelled the Vanderbilt Commodores to a 5-0 victory in the third game of a conference series played, oddly enough, on Saturday night.

Expecting a strong possibility of rain for tomorrow's afternoon finale, both Ole Miss and Vanderbilt petitioned the SEC to move the Sunday game up a day and play a doubleheader on Saturday. The commissioner's office consented at 9 a.m. this morning.

The Commodores, after dropping the first game of the doubleheader 5-1, got the pitching performance it had hoped for from Crowell, who improved to 2-0 on the young season and kept the Rebel hitters at bay by allowing only one runner to reach second base.

"You have to watch the whole game to appreciate the way he pitches," sixth-year head coach Mike Bianco said. "If you just watch one inning, he doesn't have the velocity or anything like that, but he used the whole plate all night. That's just the type of guy he is. But we also didn't hit the ball well. That's not to take anything away from him. Anyone who pitches nine innings and gives up only two hits, especially two late ones, is good in this league. He almost pitched a no-hitter. That's pretty impressive."

The Rebels just couldn't get anything going all night. Their first hit came in the bottom of the seventh on an infield single by Chris Coghlan. Coghlan dove to the first base bag to barely beat the throw and take away the possibility of Vanderbilt's first no-hitter since 1971.

Justin Brashear had Ole Miss's only other hit, a two-out double down the right field line in the bottom of the ninth.

Vanderbilt got all the runs they needed in the top of the fourth. Alex Feinburg began the inning with a lead-off single. Ryan Flaherty was then hit by a pitch, and Ryan Davis's sacrifice bunt advanced the runners to second and third. Catcher Shea Robin then singled to right field and drove in Feinburg, putting runners at the corners with one out. Then starter Lance Lynn, who began the first three frames scoreless, coaxed David Macias into a possible inning-ending double play to Zack Cozart. But Macias's hustle down the line resulted in Rebel second baseman Justin Henry to rush his throw, sailing the ball over first baseman C.J. Ketchum's head and scoring another Vanderbilt run. Pedro Alavarez then crushed a two-run homer over the right-center field wall to put Vanderbilt up 4-0.

"We had a double play ball that we normally turn that we didn't," Bianco said. "A run scored on that, then the next guy hit a two-run homer. I know you don't count on those things in the scorebook, but we do. We turn a lot of double plays, and sometimes younger pitchers need that. That would have been nice the way Crowell was pitching and the way we were swinging the bat to keep the lead at 1-0 rather than 4-0."

Vanderbilt added an insurance run in the sixth inning after Ryan Davis doubled to lead off the inning, advanced to third on a fielder's choice, and scored on Rebel reliever Craig Rodriguez' wild pitch.

The Rebels, who finished the day with only five runs and eight hits in seventeen innings of baseball, felt fortunate to split the doubleheader.

"We did what we were supposed to do when you're not hitting all that well," Bianco said. "We pitched well in the first game and put one good inning together to get a win."

With the loss, the Rebels fall to 12-8 (1-2) on the year and travel to Autozone Park on Tuesday to play the hometown Memphis Tigers. Gametime is set for 6:30 p.m. CST.

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