Getting bumped up a day in the rotation didn’t seem to affect Ryan Rolison. The freshman left-hander pitched 6.0 shutout innings Saturday evening to lead the Ole Miss baseball team to a 3-1 victory over Missouri in game two of the Southeastern Conference series at Swayze Field.
The Rebels (24-15, 8-9 SEC) limited the Tigers (27-13, 8-9 SEC) to only three hits throughout the game, including one during the first eight innings. Rolison (5-2) allowed one hit and struck out a career-high nine, while working around five walks. He retired 14 of the final 16 hitters he went up against and even went through the order without allowing a baserunner at one point in the contest. The freshman had to move up in the rotation after projected starter David Parkinson woke up Saturday morning with a stomach virus.
Another freshman, Will Ethridge, tossed a pair of scoreless frames by retiring all six hitters he faced. Closing out the game, Dallas Woolfolk (8) worked out of a jam in the ninth to complete an impressive pitching performance by Ole Miss.
Five different Rebels recorded one hit apiece. Senior Colby Bortles had the biggest hit of the game with a two-RBI single in the fifth, which ended up being the game winner. Will Golsan scored two of the Rebels’ three runs, and Tim Rowe added an RBI as well. Ryan Olenek continued to be a double machine, hitting his team-leading 14th of the season.
For the second consecutive night, the Tigers had their starting pitcher go the distance. After getting his start pushed back, Missouri ace Tanner Houck (3-6) suffered the loss by allowing three runs on five hits and three walks in 8.0 innings of work. Trey Harris’ solo home run in the ninth avoided the shutout for Missouri.
Neither team recorded a hit in the first inning, but both starting pitchers needed to shake off some wildness to get out of jams. After striking out the leadoff batter on three pitches, Rolison issued the first of two walks in the frame. However, the southpaw found the zone for two more strikeouts to get out of the inning unscathed. The same could not be said about Missouri’s Houck. He walked Golsan before plunking Bortles and Olenek in back-to-back plate appearances. With the bases loaded full of Rebels, Rowe’s groundout to first plated a run to give the Rebels the early advantage, 1-0.
Rolison kept the Tigers without a hit until one out in the fifth inning when shortstop Chris Cornelius found a hole in the left side of the infield. The single ended a streak of nine consecutive hitters retired by Rolison. Nonetheless, the Ole Miss starter recorded back-to-back outs to keep the Missouri bats silent.
In the bottom half of the frame, the Rebels used a two-out rally to score a pair of runs. Blackman walked on four straight pitches before aggressive baserunning put two Rebels into scoring position. With Blackman moving on the crack of the bat, he motored around second and slid safely into third on a single to left by Golsan. The junior right fielder advanced to second on the throw to third. Rising to the occasion, Bortles knocked in both of his teammates with a base hit up the middle. The two-RBI single gave Ole Miss a 3-0 lead through five complete.
Rolison finished the sixth with his ninth strikeout before handing the ball over to his classmate in the seventh. Ethridge rolled through the Tigers by retiring the side in consecutive innings to help the Rebels maintain a three-run cushion.
Missouri tried to make things interesting in the ninth. Harris led off the inning with a home run to right field, and Brett Bond followed with a double to bring the tying run to the plate with nobody out. After Woolfolk sent Alex Samples down swinging, a walk put the tying run on base. However, the Ole Miss closer settled down by recording another strikeout and forcing a pop-up to shortstop Grae Kessinger to end the threat and secure the win for Ole Miss.
With the two conference foes splitting the first two games of the series, the rubber match will take place today at 1:30 p.m. from Swayze Field.