OXFORD, Miss. (WTVA/Ole Miss Athletics) – Superb pitching from the Ole Miss Baseball staff and a solo shot from junior Cole Zabowski proved all that was necessary for the Rebels (13-5) Friday, as they grinded out a 1-0 win over conference foe Alabama in the opening night of SEC play at Swayze Field.
Starting pitcher Will Ethridge was dynamic through six frames, falling one shy of his career-high with nine strikeouts, scattering just three hits. The relief duo of juniors Austin Miller and Parker Caracci were also stellar, combining to fan five over three innings.
Zabowski was the only multi-hit performer for the Rebels, cranking his fourth long ball of the season and also singling in the fourth.
Friday's win marks the first victory for Ole Miss by a 1-0 margin since March of 2017, when the Rebels prevailed over Vanderbilt.
Zabowski broke through on the second pitch of his at bat to leadoff the second, blasting a solo shot to right field.
The bats were relatively quiet for the next few frames. The Rebels showed some excitement in the sixth when junior Thomas Dillard walked and senior Ryan Olenek reached on a wild pitch third strike, but both were stranded to end the inning.
Ole Miss pressured again in the seventh, as Johnson and Adams both singled to put two on. They each advanced on a wild pitch but both were stranded in scoring position to spoil the threat.
The Rebels continued to cling to their one-run lead, escaping unscathed from an eighth inning two-out double.
Junior Grae Kessinger and sophomore Anthony Servideo provided the other Ole Miss hits on the day.
The Rebels and Crimson Tide face off again in game two of a three-game series Saturday. First pitch is slated for 1:30 p.m., with an SEC Champ poster giveaway.
- The win Friday was the first 1-0 victory for Ole Miss since March 17, 2017, when the Rebels outlasted Vanderbilt in Oxford.
- Starting pitcher Will Ethridge fell one shy of his career-high, striking out nine across six innings. He has struck out 10 three times in his career, most recently against Auburn last May.
- Friday was also the third time this season he did not surrender a run, totaling 14.2 innings of unblemished baseball across four starts. He has allowed just one earned run across 19.2 total innings this season.
- The Rebels have now won three of their last four contests against the Tide, dating back to 2018 when they took 2-of-3 to secure a portion of the SEC West Title.
- Cole Zabowski's homer was his fourth of the season and the 23rd of the season for Ole Miss, a statistic they rank in the Top 10 in the country in.
- Across his last six contests, Zabowski has registered a .455 average and a .773 slugging, with 10 hits, seven runs, and a .520 on-base percentage.
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