After a lengthy road trip that saw the Rebels drop consecutive series against SEC teams, Ole Miss Baseball got back to its winning ways and improved its midweek record to 11-0, which is the best mark in school history.
A 10-3 win over Arkansas State continues a hot streak for the Ole Miss offense. Coach Mike Bianco feels that the offense is a big reason for the midweek record.
“They show up every day,” Bianco said. “We are not one of those teams that scores a ton of runs followed up by a couple rough games. Every game we seem to put innings together.”
Home runs and good plate appearances led to Ole Miss putting big numbers on the scoreboard early. A bases-loaded walk by Cole Zabowski and a two-run double by Will Golsan plated three runs in the first inning. The power woke up in the second inning with a pair of two-run dingers by Grae Kessinger and Thomas Dillard, respectively.
Ryan Olenek, who currently has a conference batting average over .500, continued his stellar play. He reached base safely in all three of his plate appearances, drawing a hit-by-pitch and connecting with two singles. His 2-2 night at the plate raises his total batting average on the season to .403. He did, however, exit the game in the fourth inning after sliding into third. Michael Spears replaced him. Coach Bianco ensured the Rebel faithful it was just a precaution.
“(Olenek) hit a ball off his toe,” Bianco said. “He will be fine.”
Jordan Fowler added another impressive performance as a midweek starter. The freshman lefty hurled five efficient innings, throwing only 66 pitches. The Red Wolves could only muster one run and five hits when Fowler, who also added four strikeouts, was on the mound. After having lengthy wait times between innings, Coach Bianco went to the bullpen for the final four innings.
With the bullpen struggling to hold leads against Mississippi State and Vanderbilt, coach Bianco utilized some of his rarely used arms.
Austin Miller tallied a couple of strikeouts, but Arkansas State was able hit well against him. A single, double and a triple surrendered two runs that were enough to end Miller’s night. Connor Green came on as relief to end the inning. Green would not last much longer. Two walks and an infield single loaded the bases, at which point Bianco put in Will Stokes. Stokes answered with a pair of outs to keep the Red Wolves off the board. He and Greer Holston made quick work of the final two innings – Stokes said he understands how important it is for him to have a clean sheet.
“Obviously I have struggled the past few outings,” Stokes said. “I made sure to hit my spots, and let the fielders do what they do. It was nice to do that (tonight).”
A blowout win midweek for a top-15 program against an inferior opponent should not mean much, in the bigger picture. Notably, though, this win gives the Rebels 30 wins on the year. This performance should be a boost to a team that has hit well over the past few weeks without winning many games. Jumping out to a big lead and maintaining it over nine innings was a welcome sight for Bianco and company, who are looking at another SEC matchup when No. 23 Georgia comes to town this weekend for a series.