Coach Bianco’s Birthday Brings Midweek Sweep Against ULM

The Rebels celebrated head coach Mike Bianco’s birthday by giving him a sweep over University of Louisiana Monroe in the midweek series at Swayze Field on Wednesday. Though there were a few more bumps in the road than they had wished for, the Rebels ended up pulling out a 5-3 win over the Warhawks.

With neither teams allowing a single run until the bottom of the sixth inning, the second matchup between the two teams was much more competitive than the 21-7 game Tuesday night.

University of Louisiana Monroe starter Stephen Morrison kept the Rebels off the scoreboard with only a handful of hits until Colby Bortles bombed a home run into the left field bullpen in the bottom of the sixth inning to break the tie.

“He left me a curveball hanging up in the zone, and I put a good swing on it,” Bortles said. “Luckily, the wind was blowing out a little bit.”

Following the home run, ULM coach Bruce Peddie decided to call to his bullpen and switch pitchers. However, the Rebels didn’t seem to mind the pitching change as they went on to score two more runs in the inning. RBIs came from a Bryan Seamster sac fly and a Cole Zabowski base hit to right field before the four-run inning ended with consecutive pop flys from Grae Kessinger and Tate Blackman.

While Sean Johnson didn’t look like he would last long past the first couple of innings, after throwing a couple walks and reaching a high pitch count early in the game, the Rebels starting pitcher put on a dominant pitching performance. When Johnson finally did surrender a hit to the first batter in the seventh inning, coach Bianco came out to the mound to bring in reliever Brady Feigl.

“He’s a great, great competitor and a great teammate,” Bianco said about Johnson.

After settling down in the third, Johnson had a stellar day on the mound, throwing six innings and allowing only one run and one hit.

“Slider, slider, slider,” Johnson said. “I had my fastball the first few innings, and then my arm started to get a little tired, but my slider is my pitch I can throw at any count.”

On offense, Nick Fortes kept swinging a hot bat for the Rebels, blasting his third home run in two days. Fortes, who is currently leading Ole Miss with a .320 batting average, extended the Rebels’ lead to three and headed to the eighth up 5-2.

The only real trouble for the Rebels was in the top of the eighth inning, when Will Ethridge was on the mound with the bases loaded and one out. Ethridge eventually escaped the inning while only giving up one run to make the score 5-3 in favor of the Rebels heading into the bottom half.

After three quick outs, Ole Miss closer Dallas Woolfolk ran out to the mound in the top of the ninth with the score 5-3 to try and grab his 10th save of the year. After a quick double play and an incredible diving play and throw to first from Bortles, Woolfolk earned the save and reached double digits on the year as Ole Miss beat the Warhawks 5-3.

Rebels Emerge Victorious in 21-7 Slugfest Against Louisiana-Monroe

Rebel fans were treated to a home run derby Tuesday night when the University of Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks came to town. Ole Miss eventually secured a monumental 21-7 win in seven innings.

The Rebels collected 17 hits and scored 21 runs on a rare off-night for both pitching staffs. Greer Holston started on the mound for the Rebels but barely made it three innings after giving up seven runs. Holston hung several pitches out over the heart of the plate, and the Warhawks capitalized with multiple home runs and doubles.

Houston Roth came in to pitch with one out in the fourth inning and was solid for the Rebels, conceding just one walk and collecting five strikeouts over 2.2 innings of work. Andy Pagnozzi stepped up for one inning of perfect relief pitching in the seventh and was ready to go for more, but the Rebels got what they needed.

All but one Rebel in the starting lineup had at least one hit in the game, and six different Rebels had RBIs. The lone starting Rebel not to collect a hit was designated hitter Michael Fitzsimmons, but he was only given one chance at the plate before Tim Rowe replaced him and knocked in three runs on two hits.

Although the Rebels dominated the Warhawks on the scoreboard Tuesday night, it wasn’t until the bottom of the fourth inning that they began to pull away. The Warhawks took the lead twice before the five-run fourth inning.

“I’m real proud that the offense was real relentless tonight,” head coach Mike Bianco said. “It seemed every time they scored, we answered in a big way.”

The Rebels hit the ball all over the park, scoring 18 runs in the fourth through sixth innings. Nick Fortes smoked two home runs in one inning, leading the Rebels with six RBIs on the night.

“It was a little up and in,” Fortes said. “Those are usually the pitches that I can get to pretty well.”

It has been more than five years since the last time Ole Miss scored more than 20 runs in a game. On March 6, 2012, the Rebels defeated UT Martin at home with a 20-4 victory.

Tuesday night’s game ended early due to the run rule after seven innings of play.

“It was a lot of fun,” Fortes said. “With our team struggling a little bit in the month of March hitting the ball, it feels good to put 21 up.”

A relatively quiet night for the umps, the lone controversial call came in the bottom of the second inning when Thomas Dillard ripped a breaking ball to short, but Anthony Herrera made a great play and threw it to first. The ump called Dillard out, but fans and Ole Miss players alike felt the call could have gone either way.

The Rebels will take on the Warhawks again at 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Rebel Baseball Captures Pair of Road Wins in Arkansas

The Ole Miss Rebels took on No. 10 Arkansas in Fayetteville this weekend. Fresh off a 4-2 loss to in-state rival Mississippi State last Tuesday, the Rebels bounced back with a 2-3 series win over the Razorbacks.

Head coach Mike Bianco gave James McArthur the game-one start on Thursday, and the right-handed sophomore did not disappoint. McArthur gave up one hit, a solo shot from the Razorbacks’ Jard Gates, over eight innings of work as the Rebels held Arkansas to a single run on the night.

The Ole Miss offense came alive Thursday night as the Rebels racked up four two-run dingers en route to their eventual 9-1 victory. Colby Bortles was responsible for two of the homers, while Tim Rowe and Tate Blackman contributed the other two.

Freshman Will Ethridge relieved McArthur in the ninth inning, closing out the game and securing the Rebel victory.

Friday featured a doubleheader that saw the Rebels split the day’s games, taking the first and barely losing the second.

The series was switched to a doubleheader due to impending weather that was supposed to sweep across the Midwest come Friday evening. Although the lights were turned on at Baum Stadium by the sixth inning of the doubleheader’s first game, the rain held off long enough for the teams to complete the games.

In the first game of the doubleheader, SEC Freshman of the Week Ryan Rolison almost replicated his performance against Mizzou, allowing just four hits in six innings of work.

The only run Rolison conceded was a home run on a 3-2 fastball to Grant Koch, hit deep over the left field wall. Arkansas now leads the SEC with 57 home runs.

The Rebel offense impressed yet again as it put together a four-run first inning, enough to ensure Ole Miss’ eventual victory. Blackman contributed two hits, and Nick Fortes knocked in two of the four RBIs. Junior Will Golsan and Bortles each added a run and a hit to the Ole Miss tally.

Ethridge was called on to relieve Rolison in the seventh, and Dallas Woolfolk closed the game out with 1.2 innings of work, securing the series win over the Razorbacks. Woolfolk, who earned the five-out save, was recently named to the Stopper of the Year Award watch list. The award is given to college baseball’s top relief pitcher.

Game three kicked off immediately after the conclusion of game two. Bianco’s team continued its impressive offensive form, putting four runs up on Arkansas, but the Rebel defense faltered this time around.

The Razorbacks took advantage of a number of errors and pitching miscues to amass a total of seven runs, three of which came from Arkansas catcher Grant Koch’s bat. Redshirted sophomore Brady Feigl pitched 2.1 scoreless innings in relief as the Rebels tried, unsuccessfully, to mount a comeback.

A bright spot in an otherwise disappointing match for the Rebels, switch hitter Thomas Dillard hit his fourth home run of the year in the second inning. The game finished with Arkansas on top by a score of 7-4.

The Rebels now look forward to the busy five-game week ahead.

Ole Miss will face Louisiana-Monroe on Tuesday and Wednesday before heading to Gainesville, Florida, for a three-game weekend shootout with the Gators.

Rebels Roll Over Razorbacks in 9-1 Rout

The Rebels will roll into their double-header Friday at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville firing on all cylinders, after commanding an impressive 9-1 victory over the No. 14 Razorbacks on Thursday night.

Until the eighth inning, Arkansas ace and starter Blaine Knight sent most every Rebel batter back to the dugout, with the exception of Tim Rowe. Rowe hit a two-run shot in the top of the second inning to score the first runs of the game.

For the Rebels, James McArthur pitched no-hit shutout baseball game until the bottom of the fifth inning, when leadoff batter Jared Gates sent a hanging curve ball over the wall in right-center field. After the home run, McArthur shut down the Razorbacks again until Will Ethridge relieved him in the ninth inning. McArthur’s final line tallied one hit, one earned run and six strikeouts.

The Rebel bats were quiet until the top of the eighth. In the top half of the inning, Will Golsan singled to short, and Colby Bortles followed it by jumping on a high fastball and sneaking it over the left field wall.

After a Ryan Olenek double down the left field line, Blaine Knight’s night ended before he was able to give up another hit to Rowe.

Josh Alberius came in to relieve Knight, but Rowe hit a single into right field to knock in his third RBI of the night.

The top of the ninth saw the Rebel bats get even hotter. Tate Blackman hit a two-run shot to right-center field on a mistake pitch by Alberius; the ball was thrown inside and belted high while the catcher set up low and away. In the next at-bat, Colby Bortles smoked his second dinger in as many innings to right field, extending the lead to eight.

Will Ethridge stepped up to close out the game in the ninth inning. Ethridge let up a double off the wall to Chad Spanberger but recovered by quickly completing the final two outs.

James McArthur was one inning away from throwing Ole Miss its the first shutout in two seasons, yet his 114 pitches were too many for him to finish the ninth.

Utilizing just two pitchers in the first game of the series was key for the Rebels. It will allow head coach Mike Bianco some freedom with his pitching staff over the rest of the weekend’s matchups.

Switching Nick Fortes to first base in order to keep his hot bat in the lineup and putting Cooper Johnson’s cannon behind the plate again seem to be paying off. Although only hitting a measly .181, Johnson has posted three hits in two games this week and looks to be improving his approach little by little.

Attempting to replicate the sweep Ole Miss had over ranked Arkansas last year, the Rebels have jumped out to a good start. Coach Bianco has options for almost any scenario. The current lineup is beginning to find its groove, and the pitchers are continuing the dominance they have shown all season.

Rebel Baseball Downed by Missouri Tigers at Home

The Rebels lost the first game 9-3 of their weekend series against the University of Missouri after Cole Bartlett, starting pitcher for the Tigers, tossed a complete game, giving up just three runs.

Ole Miss starting pitcher James McArthur started off the game by retiring the first three Tigers batters. The next two innings did not go as smoothly.

The top of the second started off with a leadoff double that was followed up by a two-run blast to left center field from Brett Bond. The next inning, Mizzou’s Connor Brumfield smoked a home run over the right field bullpen, breaking the tie and making the score 3-2.

Mizzou’s starting pitcher, Cole Bartlett, did the opposite. He started the game by letting up three consecutive singles that scored one run for the Rebels. Ryan Olenek was then thrown out attempting to steal second base, but Will Golsan easily stole home in the process. Bartlett didn’t allow another run until the bottom of the ninth.

McArthur settled in after the third inning home run and posted three consecutive scoreless innings until he was taken out for Will Stokes in the seventh inning. The Rebels got two quick outs but Alex Samples hit an RBI double for Mizzou, extending their lead by another run.

Timely hitting was an issue for the Rebels on Friday night, hitting into too many double plays and having zero extra base hits. Mizzou changed its starting pitcher a few minutes before game time, but the Rebels said they were prepared for the change.

“That’s overrated.” Coach Bianco said. “We have reports on all their pitchers and once they made the lineup change, we grabbed all the hitters in the dugout and gave them the information.”

The Rebels downplayed the last minute switch but acknowledged Bartlett’s impressive performance.

“We got called in and got the scouting report and what he was gonna throw.” Golsan said. “He had some sink, stayed down in the zone, and worked off of his slider and his fastball.”

The Rebels kept the game close until the top of the eighth inning. After the pitching change and two quick outs, a dribbler to Nick Fortes at first base made it seem like the inning would be over but he bobbled the ball and a run scored on the error.

After the error and another walk, Coach Bianco headed out to the mound again after sending Connor Green to warmup in the pen. A bad read by Golsan in the outfield on the next play cost the Rebels two more runs, making the score 7-2.

Fans began to filter out of the stadium after Mizzou’s three run eighth inning, and the Rebels went down in order again. Ole Miss tried to mount a comeback but only scored one run in the ninth inning. The game ended with the fourth double play of the night for the Tigers.

The Rebels will look to even out the three game series Saturday at 4 p.m. at Swayze Field.

Rebels Complete Three-Game Sweep Over Alabama

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.

Rebels Slug Their Way to a 14-6 Win Over UAPB

The Rebels hit themselves to a commanding 14-6 win over the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, improving their overall record to 23-14.

The game didn’t start out the way the Rebels wanted it to, giving up a home run in the top half of the first to Aderly Perez to make the score 0-1. However, the Rebels quickly bounced back, scoring two runs in the bottom of the first to take the lead.

After the Rebels went ahead in the first, they didn’t look back. The Rebels scored six runs in the bottom of the second inning, starting with a leadoff home run from left fielder DJ Miller.

The home team did the rest of the damage in the second inning with two outs against them. RBIs in the bottom half of the inning came from Miller, Tim Rowe and Nick Fortes. Ryan Olenek knocked in Grae Kessinger with two outs, but the run was unearned due to a fielding error by the third baseman.

Greer Holston gave up three runs in the top of the third inning, but he regained his composure and threw two clean frames in the fourth and fifth innings. Following the fifth inning, Houston Roth replaced Holston and put up two no-hit innings in his time on the mound.

The game was stagnant from the third inning to the sixth inning when Bortles’ RBI single and Olenek’s two RBI double put the Rebs up by seven runs, making the score 11-4.

Coach Mike Bianco took advantage of the big lead by giving some bench players chances to perform.

“We talked about it in pregame,” coach Bianco said. “When you get your opportunities, make the most of it. It was certainly nice to see DJ come off the bench and get a big homer and really give us the lead.”

Bryce Blaum, Michael Fitzsimmons, Bryan Seamster and Kyle Watson also came off the bench to collect hits in the rout against the seven different pitchers UAPB threw against Ole Miss Wednesday night. Other changes to the lineup included Nick Fortes switching to first base and DJ Miller playing left field.

The Rebels initially had to adjust to the pitching of UAPB, coming off a three-game series against SEC foe LSU. The pitching was much slower than what the Rebs have been accustomed to.

“The speed difference was a little different, and to make that adjustment was big for our offense, and it shows the maturity we have and what we are capable of doing,” Tate Blackman said. “We just got to keep being patient and taking advantage.”

Ole Miss looks to take the momentum from this win over UAPB into the three-game series against the Missouri Tigers at home this weekend. Ole Miss is second to last in the SEC West, but with a series win this weekend, it could move up a few spots in the rankings.