The Rebels defense had no answers for Tennessee Tech University’s offense.
In their first chance to clinch the Oxford Regional, the Rebels were outpitched, outhit and outperformed. Unable to build any momentum, the starting pitcher for the Golden Eagles sliced his way through the Ole Miss lineup for the first seven innings of the ballgame. Coach Bianco was forced to call on five different pitchers throughout the game and not one had an answer for Tennessee Tech’s bats. The Golden Eagles took advantage and pressed on the gas pedal as soon and as much as they could.
A strong start from Ole Miss’s James McArthur was put to bed when the Golden Eagles chalked up four runs on five hits to jump in front of the Rebels 4-0. James McArthur, who started for the Rebels, did not last long. Pitching three leadoff walks, four hits and four walks during his time on the mound, Coach Mike Bianco turned to Will Stokes to fuel some defensive energy in the third inning.
The 5’11, 170-pound sophomore, Ethan Roberts, worked up and down the Ole Miss batting order with ease.
In the top of the fifth inning, first basemen Chase Chambers homered a pitch deep over the fence in right field. The Golden Eagles took advantage of every pitch that hung to extend the lead on the SEC Tournament Champions.
Down seven runs going into the sixth inning, Ole Miss’s offense could not seem to find a rhythm versus Ethan Roberts in his first start of the season.
Swayze’s energy in the stadium started to deplete as the Golden Eagles racked up four hits and three runs to start the sixth inning. As “T-T-U” chants rang from the visitor fan section, Ole Miss turned to Connor Green with zero outs down 10-0. Green was able to escape the nightmarish inning without allowing more runs in.
In the bottom of the sixth, singles from Adams and Kessinger put runners in position to score for the first time in the game. The chances of putting runs on the board for Ole Miss was squandered when Nick Fortes grounded out into a double play to end the inning.
Bottom of the eighth, Ole Miss searched for a miracle come back with bases loaded and Cooper Johnson up to bat. Johnson blasted life into the Ole Miss Club by hitting a line drive over the second baseman’s head to drive in the first two runs of the game for Ole Miss. After pitching 7.2 innings and 107 total pitches, Ole Miss finally forced a change on the mound from Tennessee Tech University.
An error by TTU’s right fielder, Nick Osborn, and a line drive by Cole Zabowski drove in three more runs closing the gap to 5-10 before the rally was cut short by the Golden Eagles’ pitcher, Travis Moth.
In the 9th, the Golden Eagles extinguished all hopes of coming back by extending their lead to 10 runs in a painful inning. Ryan Olenek was called upon from right field to close out the inning.
Ole Miss faces an elimination game and a third matchup versus Tennessee Tech University later in the afternoon at 6 PM CT.
Ole Miss’s bullpen will need to come alive to hold the Golden Eagles to less freedom and bring more pressure to Tennessee Tech batters if the Rebels want to host a Super Regional Series.