OXFORD, Miss. (WTVA/Ole Miss Athletics) – One swing from the bat of sophomore Thomas Dillard was just what the No. 4 Rebels (23-3, 4-2 SEC) needed to take down in-state foe and 14th-ranked Southern Miss (17-5) Tuesday night at Swayze Field.
Trailing until late in the seventh, Dillard’s three-run home run helped the Rebels rally for a 7-6 win on the way to tallying their tenth come-from-behind win this season.
The Rebels were able to fend off the high-powered Golden Eagles offense, who average a fifth-best 8.8 runs in college baseball, and carry the momentum into this weekend’s matchup with No. 5 Arkansas.
The win was the first time the Rebels have rallied from a five-run deficit since May 14, 2016, when they did the same versus a Kentucky squad after trailing by an identical score of 5-0.
Sophomore Greer Holston picked up his first win of the season after working 1.2 innings of scoreless relief, while Parker Caracci earned his fourth save of the year, just two behind the team leader in Dallas Woolfolk. The Golden Eagles’ knocked off starter Jordan Fowler after just 0.1 innings of work and four runs allowed, but Houston Roth carried the team into the sixth before turning it over to the Rebel bullpen and allowing the trio of Holston, Woolfolk, and Caracci to finish it off.
The Rebels quickly dug themselves into a hole, allowing four runs before the second out of the game, three of which came on a Hunter Slater home run. Bianco quickly turned to Roth, but Slater struck again with a solo shot in the third to put Southern Miss ahead 5-0.
Ole Miss answered in the fourth with a two-out rally to chip away at the deficit. Cole Zabowski reached on a fielder’s choice before Tyler Keenan belted a single into right, but Chase Cockrell was the real hero of the inning, bringing everybody home on a two-RBI double just over the first baseman. Cockrell would come around to score on a pair of wild pitches, and the Southern Miss lead was cut to two.
Roth worked into the sixth, going 5.0 innings of work and allowing just one run, the solo home run in the third, while striking out seven. He passed the rock to Holston with one down in the sixth, and the sophomore was able to go an inning and two thirds of scoreless work while recording three strikeouts.
While the Rebel bullpen enjoyed their usual success, Dillard made sure it would not go unnoticed, and put Ole Miss on top in the seventh. After a leadoff single from Jacob Adams, a Grae Kessinger walk, and a Ryan Olenek bunt, the bases were full with nobody down. Nick Fortes plated one on a fielder’s choice, but Dillard brought them all home with a three-run, no-doubter home run to left field.
Bianco turned to Woolfolk in the eighth, who went a full inning and allowed just one hit while keeping the Rebel lead at two. Caracci took over in the ninth where drama ensued, but No. 65 was ultimately able to pick up the save and give Ole Miss the victory. An early single resulted in a run after Olenek overthrew the first baseman and cut the Rebel lead to one, and another single plus a walk put two on with two out for the Golden Eagles.
Caracci picked up the final out on a deep fly ball to center field, where Will Golsan was able to track it down at the wall, and Ole Miss was able to pick up a quality win on its home turf against nationally ranked Southern Miss. The Rebels will return to action this weekend against SEC-west foe No. 5 Arkansas for a Thursday, Friday, Saturday series at Swayze Field.
- The Rebels improve to 23-3 on the year, the winningest record in college baseball.
- After trailing 5-0, Ole Miss was able to come from behind and win 7-6, the first win to rally from a five-run deficit since May 14, 2016 against Kentucky.
- With yet another come-from-behind win, the Rebels have now won ten games on the year after trailing at some point.
- Ole Miss has now won three straight against the Golden Eagles after sweeping them last year, and they improve to 75-50 all-time against their in-state foe, with another game set for April 10 at Trustmark Park in Pearl, Miss.
- Thomas Dillard belted his team-leading seventh home run on the year, almost doubling his 57-game mark of four from last year.
- Dillard’s hitting streak has now improved to fifteen straight games with a hit.
- Parker Caracci picked up his fourth save of the year, putting him two behind Dallas Woolfolk for team leader.
- Greer Holston earned his first win on the year in his ninth relief appearance.
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