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.