It was not as clean as the opening day win, but Ole Miss found a way in game two of its three game set against Florida International, and won by a score of 7-4.
Just like in game one, Ole Miss jumped on the FIU starter early, tallying three runs of off Christopher Mourelle in its first at bat on a pair of RBI singles from Tate Blackman and J.B. Woodman. Blackman’s shot to left field plated two and quickly gave Chad Smith a comfortable three-run lead lead.
Smith took the ball Ole Miss on Saturday and looked shaky at times. He struggled with his location, walking three and allowing three earned runs in 3.2 innings of work.
“Chad Struggled. He just wasn’t himself today, just really had no command,” said coach Mike Bianco. “We are going to have some of that because there are so many first time pitchers running out there and pitching in front of ten thousand, but you have to handle it and we have to grow up.”
Bianco eluded to nerves being a factor in in the junior transfer’s struggles in his Ole Miss debut.
After allowing a run in the second, Smith ran into trouble in in the fourth. After a Nick Day double down the left field line to tie the game, Smith’s day was over and freshman Andy Pagnozzi came on in relief.
Pagnozzi, who was also making his first career appearance, pitched well in 2.1 innings of scoreless relief, and allowed just one hit over that span.
“I’ve been working all year for this. I felt ready, felt my team behind me and I was just ready to go out there and hit spots,” he said of his first outing. “It’s a little nerve wracking heading out there for your first time, but every time is just like every intersquad we’ve played and I knew I had my team behind me ready to play.”
“We needed somebody that would throw the ball in the strike zone, and Andy was that guy today and looked terrific,” Bianco said. “He was able to locate his fastball on both sides of the plate.”
Two innings later Kyle Watson broke the tie with an RBI single, and Will Golsan followed that up with a bases clearing three-RBI double to the left center gap that capped off a four run sixth inning for Ole Miss.
“They were pitching me in a little bit, and I tried to back off of the plate a little and get a fast ball to hit and that’s what I got,” Golsan said. The sophomore first baseman was hitting in the two hole in the lineup instead of fifth, and saw a couple more fastballs as a result.
FIU added one run in the seventh off of freshman James McArthur who was the third Rebel to make his first career appearance on the day, and junior closer Wyatt Short held the Panthers scoreless two innings the final two innings to grab his first save of the season.
Ole Miss will go for a sweep of the three game series on Sunday. First pitch is set for noon.