Coming off an important series on the road last weekend, the Rebels returned home to Swayze Field to take on the Austin Peay Governors. The favorable wind conditions led to an offensive outburst and the Rebels took the game 11-4. Big innings for the offense and a solid bullpen helped improve the team’s record to 11-1.
The Rebels’ offense was the key to the game. Left fielder Thomas Dillard hit a solo homerun to center field to start the scoring in his first at bat. His second plate appearance was more impressive. Dillard gave the Rebels a 5-1 lead with a three-run homerun to right field that flew past the student section. With an additional a walk, this game served as a rebound for Dillard after failing to register a hit at the plate this past weekend against Long Beach State. Dillard credits his ability to not worry after a tough series for his performance tonight.
“In the moment, I might have [pressed] a little bit,” Dillard said. “(I) just have to move on to the next game. We play over 56 games a year. What is done is done.”
Dillard’s offensive output was necessary, as Austin Peay did not lack the ability to score runs.
Houston Roth started for Ole Miss, as he has done in every midweek game for the team to this point in the season. His first four innings were solid. He tallied five strikeouts and seemed to be in control, only giving up one run. When the fifth inning came around, Austin Peay started threatening. After a leadoff strikeout, six consecutive Governor hitters reached base. A walk, four singles, and a double were enough to end Roth’s night after four and two-thirds innings.
The bullpen steadied the game for the Rebels. Will Stokes ended the scoring threat for Austin Peay in relief of Roth. Stokes gave coach Bianco two and one third of an inning, only giving up one hit. Will Ethridge finished off the last two innings in a clean outing.
Coach Mike Bianco was impressed with how Stokes came out of the bullpen to get out of the tough inning after what he thinks is the first time the pitcher has not made an appearance in a weekend series.
“I knew he would come in early when there was a threat,” stated Bianco. “He was as sharp as he has been all year, and we needed that.”
With the bullpen holding Austin Peay to four runs, the offense came through with a big eighth inning. Ole Miss scored five runs, including a three-run homerun from freshman Tyler Keenan. Keenan’s four RBI’s matched Dillard’s total.
Tonight’s game is the first of two midweek games this week. Ole Miss will welcome Arkansas-Little Rock to town for a Wednesday matchup. Jordan Fowler is the expected starting pitcher.