OXFORD, Miss. (WTVA/Ole Miss Athletics) – The No. 8 Ole Miss baseball team took down Austin Peay on Saturday behind a pair of massive home runs from sophomore Thomas Dillard as well as an six-run eighth inning to finalize the 11-4 victory. The win ensures Coach Mike Bianco’s undefeated record against the Governors stayed intact, pushing his all-time record vs. Austin Peay to 11-0.
Sophomore Houston Roth earned his third consecutive Tuesday start, going 4.2 mostly seamless innings with six strikeouts before the Governors jumped on him in the fifth. It was senior Will Stokes, however, who earned the win, his first on the year, after working 2.1 innings in relief with a pair of strikeouts and only one hit allowed.
The highlight of the night, however, was the Rebel offense, which combined for 13 hits, seven of them good for extra bases, as well as three long balls, two of which came from the bat of Dillard.
Dillard began the scoring fest with a solo shot in the second, his second on the year, before freshman Tyler Keenan knocked in a run with a double off the wall that Swayze Field could barely contain.
Dillard struck again just an inning later after Olenek and Fortes opened the third by reaching base. With two on and one out, Dillard delivered one of his best swings to date, sending a ball into the student section in right field that plated three and put the Rebels on top by a score of 5-1 after three complete.
Austin Peay was the next to strike, coming after Roth with hit after hit in the fifth inning. At one point, the Governors combined for five consecutive two-out hits, good enough for three runs, before Bianco made a call to the bullpen and relied upon Stokes to close the frame. The senior did just that, recording a strikeout when it was most needed, and ending the inning with two runners stranded.
With the Rebel lead diminished to just one, Stokes ensured that it remained that way, while the bats took to the plate seeking desperate insurance runs.
The insurance came in the eighth inning, where six different Rebels crossed the plate. The inning led off with senior Will Golsan’s inaugural birthday hit, a single through the left side. Following Golsan, Cole Zabowski knocked the captain home with a deep single to center, and Chase Cockrell got in on the action with a double down the left field line, part of a 3-for-3 day for the junior.
Still with nobody out in the inning, the real fun came when Keenan stepped to the plate. Keenan, the fourth Rebel batter to hit without an out in the inning, busted it open with a three-run home run to right, the first of his young career and the third of the game, pushing the score to 9-4 in favor of the Rebels.
The Rebels scored two more in the eighth, one from the bat of Michael Spears, who recorded his second career hit as well as RBI with a single to right, before Golsan, making his second appearance at the plate in the same inning, knocked another run-in with his second hit of the inning, a double in the gap.
Will Ethridge finalized the win with his first save of the year, throwing two perfect innings to improve the Rebels to 11-1 on the year as they get ready to face Little Rock in Wednesday’s matchup, set for a 6:30 p.m. CT first pitch with freshman Jordan Fowler making his first start in a Rebel jersey.
- The Rebels improve to 11-0 against Austin Peay under head coach Mike Bianco.
- The last time the Rebels scored double-digit runs in consecutive games was May 25-26 of 2016 in the SEC tournament.
- With a solo shot in the second, and a three-run bomb in the third, Thomas Dillard today recorded his first multi-home run game in a Rebel jersey. His two home runs today also tie him with Nick Fortes with the team lead of three.
- Dillard also joined Fortes as the second Rebel to hit two home runs in a game this season.
- Dillard recorded a new career high in RBI, with four on the day coming from his two home runs.
- Tyler Keenan recorded his first home run as a Rebel, with a three-run shot in the eighth to help secure the win. Keenan also recorded a new high in RBI with four, surpassing his previous best of two.
- Will Stokes earned his first win on the season, going 2.1 flawless innings of relief, recording two strikeouts while allowing just one hit.
- Michael Spears doubled both his hit and RBI total as a Rebel today, increasing both to two with an RBI single in the eighth inning.
- Chase Cockrell tied his career-best in hits, with three on the day, including two doubles. His two doubles also tie him with Grae Kessinger for the team lead in doubles at four.
- Eight different Rebels recorded a hit to total 13 on the day en route to the 11-4 victory.
- Seven of the team’s 13 hits on the day were for extra bases, three of them home runs.
- Tonight’s game against the Governors marks the first of a five-game home stretch that concludes with a weekend series vs. Eastern Illinois.
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