Following a one-run defeat on Friday night, Ole Miss Baseball took care of business on Saturday to claim its series against Georgia. This weekend’s series win was the first for the Rebels since defeating Arkansas on March 31 and propelled them to an uncontested first place ranking in the SEC West standings.
Ole Miss welcomed Georgia to Swayze Field for the first time since 2014 over the weekend and lost in a 3-2 contest on Friday in which Ole Miss never led. The loss put the Rebels at a three-game SEC losing streak dating back to the Vanderbilt series.
“We just didn’t play well enough,” head coach Mike Bianco said. “The story was that they played a little bit better than us in all three phases.”
Ryan Rolison started and pitched seven complete innings. He had a good outing, allowing seven hits and two earned runs and striking out six. However, he didn’t get the run support from the Rebel lineup that has been consistent throughout the early part of this season – the number of runs was the lowest the Rebels have scored all year.
“It’s just the way baseball goes sometimes,” Grae Kessinger said. “We won a lot of these early, and it just hasn’t fallen our way the past few games, but I don’t think the confidence is wavering. Everybody believes in each other now more than ever, and that’s what’s gonna make this team special in the end.”
Saturday’s doubleheader was crucial. With postseason seeding on the line, dropping even one of the games would have been disastrous for head coach Mike Bianco and his team.
The Rebel bats were hot in game one of the doubleheader, in which the the Rebels racked up nine hits and scored eight runs on the way to an 8-4 win to even the series. Brady Feigl started and pitched well, only giving up two earned runs. He is now a perfect 6-0 in home starts.
As good as Feigl was, it’s hard to do much better than Will Stokes did in relief. Stokes threw three and two-thirds innings, conceding just two hits and one earned run.
“I thought (Stokes) was tremendous, like the Will Stokes that we’ve seen for so many years,” Bianco said.
The fifth inning saw Ole Miss do the most damage, scoring four in the frame to make the game 5-2. The Rebels added three more insurance runs in the sixth, for good measure.
“We’ve gone through a little adversity the past few weekends,” Will Golsan said. “We bounced back, and that’s what we know we can do.”
The rubber match was set. Game three of the series was a must-win for two teams trying to assert their positions in the toughest conference in America. Luckily for the Rebel faithful, Ole Miss came out on top.
James McArthur took the ball in game three and was absolutely dominant. He gave up just one earned run and three hits and struck out four in six innings of work.
“He was a horse for us today on the mound,” Bianco said. “He always has the dominant fastball, but today (McArthur had) a much better breaking ball and some changeups, as well. When you run him out on Sundays, you feel pretty good.”
Golsan had his best game of the season so far in this win, going 3-4 at the plate with two dingers and three RBIs. The team captain has been swinging it well this season, but a combination of personal bad luck and great defensive plays by opposing teams have negatively impacted his numbers.
“Will (Golsan) is a tremendous competitor,” Bianco said. “He doesn’t like when he doesn’t have success, not selfishly, but because he wants to do it for the team.”
Ryan Olenek recorded a hit in all three games over the weekend, extending his hit streak to 19, which is the longest in the SEC. Mike Bianco has the Ole Miss offense and pitching staff rolling right now, and it will need to build on this weekend heading into a midweek game with Mississippi State on Tuesday.
“I said to the team, and it’s true, ‘Don’t wish it was easier. Wish you were better,’” Bianco said.