The Ole Miss Rebels completed a three-game sweep over the Alabama Crimson Tide this Sunday after a stellar afternoon on the mound from winning pitcher Ryan Rolison.
After a shaky first inning that saw 27 pitches and a mound visit from head coach Mike Bianco, Rolison was able to settle in and go 5.2 innings while striking out seven and giving up just one hit. Rolison credits Bianco for his resurgence throughout the game.
“(Coach Bianco) was coming out there to slow me down because I threw a lot of pitches early on,” Rolison said.
The Rebels jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, thanks to RBIs from Ryan Olenek and Tim Rowe. Although Olenek and Rowe helped the Rebels get ahead early, Tate Blackman and Will Golsan were the true standouts at the plate today, accounting for five runs and five RBIs.
After the two-run first inning, the game hit a lull until the end of the fifth inning, when Bianco came out to share some words with the umpire on a controversial at-bat from Olenek. The umpire behind home plate was inconsistent for both teams throughout the game, holding off on seemingly obvious strikes but not being afraid to call pitches well up in the zone.
Cheers for Bianco and jeers for the umpire came early and often as the intensity heated up. When Alabama power hitter Chandler Taylor stepped up to the plate in the sixth inning, the crowd starting yelling, “Out of the box!” during his at-bat, trying to get the umpire to give some calls for the home team.
After the crowd stretched out in the middle of the seventh, Golsan followed up Blackman’s leadoff single with a home run to left center field that barely snuck out of the yard.
“It was up, and before that he had jammed me, so I just felt like I needed to get to it, and I got my barrel to it,” Golsan said.
Olenek didn’t let his previous controversial at-bat bother him too much, knocking in Colby Bortles on a pitch from Alabama freshman Deacon Medders that was intended to be the third ball in an intentional walk. Medders intentionally walked left fielder Thomas Dillard in the fifth inning, but like the errant throw to Olenek, it was a struggle for him to successfully get all the pitches outside of the zone and to his catcher accurately.
Dallas Woolfolk came in for the six-out save in the eight inning, but the closer needed some help from the defense to make it out alive. With the bases loaded, Connor Short lined out to Golsan, who then fired it to cutoff man Bortles to keep Chandler Taylor glued to third base.
After the line-out, Woolfolk earned his seventh save and promptly set down the next four batters, including a three-pitch strikeout that ended the game with Taylor watching the ball fly into Nick Fortes’ mitt.