The Ole Miss baseball team claimed the 2019 Oxford Regional with a dominant 19-4 victory over Jacksonville State on Sunday night. The Rebels advance to the Fayetteville Super Regional, where they’ll face the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Thomas Dillard finished his monster night at the plate 3-3 with seven RBIs off a homer, a grand slam and a double.
This was about where things started to go wrong for the Rebels in last year’s regional, and you could see the Rebels’ collective thirst for redemption in the very first swing of Thomas Dillard’s bat. The junior left fielder went yard on the first pitch of the game from Trey Fortner.
“I think it’s one of those games that if you go out there and set the tone, it can really help you out throughout the game,” Dillard said. “First pitch of the game I just wanted to go out there and get a good pitch and put a good swing on it. Grae (Kessinger), Tyler (Keenan), all those guys after it, the fact that we got three hits to start off the the game really just kind of scared them.”
The Rebels jumped on the Jacksonville State pitching early and didn’t take their foot off the gas for the duration to make the dark Monday a year ago ancient history.
“I think we’re all proud of one another. I’m happy. Everybody deserves this, even the new guys, but the guys that were here last year deserved today, to finish their last game at Swayze Field like this,” head coach Mike Bianco said.
The Ole Miss lineup caught fire with men on base in the third with RBIs from a Jacob Adams walk and a Dillard SAC fly to go with Anthony Servideo’s score on a wild pitch from Colin Casey. The Rebels found themselves up 6-0 in the middle of the third.
The Gamecocks got on the board in the third as well using a pair of two-out singles from Tre Kirkland and Cole Fredrick.
The Rebels came back in the fourth to put up six runs on Casey and Austin Brewster. Zabowski was walked in, then Jacob Adams slapped a single to bring in Graham. Thomas Dillard came up to the plate with the bases loaded to jack a no-doubter grand slam, giving the Rebels a vice grip on the game with a 12-2 lead.
RBIs from Dillard, Zabowski, Olenek and Tim Elko gave the Rebels the 17-2 lead in the 6th.
The Rebels scoring eventually halted, but not before exorcising a few one-year-old demons. Servideo was walked in his first four at-bats, but when he made contact, it jump over the right field wall for his second home run of the weekend and third of the season.
A key to the onslaught of runs for the Rebels were the walks provided by the Gamecock pitchers. The Rebels finished the game with 15 free bases.
Freshman Gunnar Hoglund pitched 5.1 innings, giving up only two runs on five hits. Houston Roth, Connor Green and Max Cioffi came in for relief throughout the game.
Next up for the Rebels is a trip to the familiar Fayetteville, Arkansas, for a Super Regional against the Razorbacks.
“The energy’s really good. I think it’s pretty safe to say at this point that we feel like we’re going to win every game when we come to the ballpark,” Cooper Johnson said. “The energy in the dugout is awesome. Guys are locked in. Guys are enjoying it.”