After not making the NCAA Tournament last year, the Rebels started this post-season off with a big victory against Saint Louis.
With over 11,000 people in attendance, the atmosphere at Swayze Field was full of excitement on Saturday night.
“I always think around this time with the environment you have to get the fans into it,” head coach Mike Bianco said. “You have to do something offensively, it’s hard for fans to get excited about defense and pitching even though that’s what we say wins championships,”
Ole Miss sophomore Ryan Rolison took the mound to start the game. He got off to a sluggish start, allowing one run in each of the first and second innings. This left Ole Miss down 2-0 going into the bottom of the second inning.
“I had a little bit of adrenaline, I was rushing a little bit and kept the ball elevated, then Coach B. (Bianco) came out to talk to me and he could see I was rushing and I just had to go back to pitching and relaxing, and doing what I do best,” Rolison said.
Once Rolison was able to get out of the top of the second, the Rebels hit their stride. The bottom of the second started with Cole Zabowski hitting a two-run homer to tie the game 2-2. Ole Miss was not done yet, scoring four more runs in the inning to lead 6-2 entering the third inning, with the help of an error committed by Saint Louis.
Rolison didn’t allow another score in the game after the second inning. The Rebels scored another home run from Tyler Keenan, putting the Rebels up 8-2 at the end of the third.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Rebels increased their lead by one run, bringing the score to 9-2.
Starting with the fifth inning, the game became a defensive one, with no more runs scored by either team. The sixth inning was short with three quick outs for both teams. Ole Miss remained up by seven runs.
Ole Miss switched pitchers at the top of the eighth, replacing Rolison, who had 13 strikeouts, with freshman Max Cioffi. The inning ended quickly with three outs. Cioffi continues to deliver for the Rebels.
Ole Miss entered the ninth inning up by seven and won the game with a score of 9-2, outhitting Saint Louis 9-4 with no errors on the night. The Rebels left the field to a standing ovation by elated fans.
Coming off the momentum of an SEC Championship, Ole Miss continues to build their confidence with a strong offense and tight defense.
“I thought we played really well from start to finish in all three phases. It starts on the mound and I thought Ryan was sharp, especially after the first couple of innings,” Bianco said.