Rebel baseball overcame No. 16 Southern Miss in Hattiesburg Tuesday night for the second time season. Strong pitching and consistent defense led the Rebels to a relatively simple 6-2 victory.
After an uneventful first inning, Ole Miss began the scoring when Nick Fortes’ strike out, combined with a wild pitch, forced USM catcher Cole Donaldson to throw Fortes out at first, allowing Ryan Olenek to score.
In the fourth inning, Fortes drove in yet another RBI. He grounded out to third base, allowing third baseman Colby Bortles to cross home plate.
Adding to the impressive offensive display, Cole Zabowski capitalized on a fielding error from second baseman Storme Cooper and elevated the Rebels’ lead to 3-0 in the seventh inning.
Fortes later drove a ball to deep center field, driving in the Rebels’ fourth run of the evening.
Junior Will Golsan rounded out the Rebels’ scoring tirade in the ninth with a two run homer that brought the score to 6-0.
Southern Miss added two runs of their own before the game drew to a 6-2 finish in Ole Miss’ favor.
Freshman Greer Holston experienced a breakout night on the mound, pitching six scoreless innings en route to his first ever collegiate win. Holston, named last year’s No. 4 high school prospect in the state of Mississippi, pitched 57 strikes out of 97 pitches against a very capable Southern Miss offense.
With 361 hits on the season prior to the matchup, USM ranked 11th in the nation for total hits. Stingy Rebel defense helped Holston stave off the Golden Eagle’s explosive batters until the ninth inning. Mistakes were minimized Tuesday night as the Rebels committed just one fielding error on the night.
The Rebels’ aggressive offense was apparent from start to finish. Head coach Mike Bianco’s men took plenty of risk, striking out twelve times, but their strategy paid dividends early and often.
Ole Miss has struggled away from Swayze field at times this season. Tuesday’s win, which brought the Rebels’ away record to 2-3, should help the team’s confidence going forward.
The Rebels are now in the midst of a five game winning streak, two of those coming against Southern Miss and the rest against Alabama in a three-game sweep last weekend. Even more impressively, the win gave Ole Miss an 11-6 record against ranked opponents on the season.
The Rebels now travel to Baton Rouge for an away affair with SEC opponent, No. 8 LSU, on Thursday at 6:30 PM.