On a beautiful Friday afternoon, the Ole Miss Rebels opened the 2018 season with a home stand against Winthrop University.
Ole Miss sophomore Ryan Rolison took the mound to start the game, striking out two batters in the first inning while the Rebels failed to capitalize with any runs of their own.
All three Winthrop batters struck out in the top of the 2nd inning. But the bottom on the 2nd brought some action for the Rebel bats; Thomas Dillard hit it to center field for a single. He then stole second base while Tim Rowe wass walked. Ryan Olenek hit a bunt for Rowe to move to second and Dillard to third. Tyler Keenan stepped up and drove a two-RBI double.
Rolison had another strike out in the top of the 3rd but gave up his first hit of the season. Winthrop’s runner stole third to put them in scoring position but another retired batter stranded the runner.
Rolison struck out eight through the top of the 3rd. The Rebels continued their strong offensive showing as Nick Fortes hit a single down the 3rd base line. Dillard hit a single and Fortes advanced to 2nd. Rowe went yard for the first time in 2018, advancing Dillard and Fortes and unleashing a beer shower upon the student section in right field.
In the fourth, Cooper Johnson got on base for the Rebels and moved to 2nd after a single from Kessinger. Will Golson hit a double to send Johnson home increasing the Rebels lead to 6-0.
Ole Miss switched pitchers at the top of the 6th, replacing Rolison and his 12 strikeouts with Oxford’s own Houston Roth. Winthrop hit a double to center field before Will Golson dropped an easy catch, allowing Winthrop to place runners on 2nd and 3rd base. This was Ole Miss’ second error of the game. Winthrop hit a single to center field and broke the shutout 6-1. With runners on 1st and 3rd. Winthrop scored again, ending the top of the 6th with a score of 6-2 favoring Ole Miss.
The top of the 7th came and went as the Rebels successfully held Winthrop scoreless again. The Ole Miss offense, however, quieted down and retired the inning without a run.
Ole Miss took care of business in the 8th inning, allowing no runs, hits, or errors. In the batters box, Dillard hit a single and got to first base. At this point, the Rebels had outhit Winthrop 9-3. After a series of missed throws and errors, the Rebels crossed home plate once more before ending the inning.
Ole Miss led the game 7-2 entering the 9th inning, out-hitting Winthrop 13-3.
Will Stokes took over the mound for Ole Miss. Stokes hits a Winthrop player and sent him to 1st base before Winthrop scored their final run of the game. Ole Miss won their home opener 7-3.
“We played pretty well tonight, of course Ryan got them off to a great start,” head coach Mike Bianco said. “It was a nice night offensively because it came from some different people.”
Ole Miss will take on Winthrop for the second of three games on Saturday at 1:30 pm at Swayze Field.