Rebels roll to 6-3 victory over Green Wave, stay undefeated

Posted on Feb 25 2018 - 6:48pm by Josh Gollihar

Ole Miss baseball improved its record to an undefeated 7-0 following another weekend series sweep, this time over the Tulane Green Wave. The Rebels outscored Tulane by a combined score of 20-8 over the three games.

James McArthur (26) pitches to a Tulane opponent during the 6-3 win over Tulane Sunday. The Rebels swept the series this weekend and will face Murray State Tuesday. Photo by Marlee Crawford

Sunday was the most evenly matched game of the series, even if the final 6-3 scoreline tells a different story. Tulane held the lead for the first half of the game after scoring a run in the first inning. This was the only run of the game until Thomas Dillard hit a solo shot for the Rebels to tie the game in the fourth inning.

Tulane starting pitcher Keagan Gillies had the Rebels’ number for most of the game. Other than four hits between Grae Kessinger and Thomas Dillard, Gillies controlled the game. He maintained a 2-1 lead until he left the game in the sixth inning. The Rebels proceeded to score five runs in the sixth inning for the second game in a row to take a 6-2 lead. Cooper Johnson followed up a Will Golsan two-RBI single with a three-run home run to give the Rebels a commanding lead that they never looked back from.

Kessinger has been the best hitter for the Rebels this season, and this weekend only cemented that fact. Kessinger went 5-10 hitting, increasing his batting average on the season to .464.

The Rebels’ pitching staff has not been flawless, but it is getting the job done. Its opponents’ run totals are low, but all too often the staff finds itself working hard and throwing extra pitches to finish innings. The Ole Miss pitchers stranded 16 Tulane base runners throughout the series. Brady Feigl and Ryan Rolison both had to exit their starts after delays – rain for Rolison and extended time between innings for Feigl.

First baseman Nick Fortes (7) tosses the ball to pitcher James McArthur (26) as he gets a Tulane opponent out at first base during game Sunday. Photo by Marlee Crawford

Sunday’s starter, James McArthur, had to work exceptionally hard through his start. He threw 87 pitches over 5.1 innings, surrendering two runs on six hits. Nevertheless, coach Mike Bianco was impressed with the performance his ace put forward.

“I think he was real good today,” Bianco said when asked how McArthur looked on the mound. “That is a good offense over there. You really have to pitch to the first six or seven guys in that lineup.”

Dallas Woolfolk is handling business of his own this season for Ole Miss. The closer recorded saves in games one and three, boosting his total to four on the season through the team’s first seven games.

The Rebels have wasted no time warming up their bats this season. Catcher Cooper Johnson has shown power at the plate this season by racking up two home runs already. This is the second straight year that Ole Miss baseball has started the season 7-0, and Johnson is cautiously optimistic about the team’s ceiling.

“Absolutely,” Johnson exclaimed when asked about excitement in the locker room. “We have all been talking about it. There is a very different feel. With the depth on offense, defense, and in the pitching staff, I have never played on a team like (this one).”

Thomas Dillard (6) is greeted by his teammates after hitting a home run during the 6-3 win over Tulane Sunday. Photo by Marlee Crawford

The Rebels are rolling right now. Wins are piling up, thanks to elite pitching and well-timed bursts of hitting. But Ole Miss’ upcoming schedule could test the Rebels’ might. After a midweek bout with Murray State, the team will travel out west to take on Long Beach State for a weekend series. The Long Beach State Dirtbags split a double-header with the No. 7 TCU Horned Frogs this weekend.