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Ole Miss baseball rolls past Wright State in opener

Cooper Johnson and Tyler Keenan homer as Rebels roll 10-1.

Posted: Feb 15, 2019 9:41 PM

OXFORD, Miss. (Ole Miss Athletics/WTVA) - The top-ten Ole Miss Rebels cruised to a nine-run win Friday night in the season opener against the Wright State Raiders. Head coach Mike Bianco's ballclub continued a streak of first-game dominance, improving to an 18-1 record in season debuts since his arrival in Oxford.

The team battled the elements, yet still managed to put up ten against Wright State on a rainy night in Oxford for a 10-1 Friday night victory.

Junior Will Ethridge found his groove after a shaky first inning and lasted until two-thirds of the way through the fifth inning. The Rebel ace didn't allow a run on the night while holding the Raiders to just four hits on five strikeouts and two walks.

It took Ole Miss just two arms to work a dominant one-run performance on the mound. Junior Austin Miller worked his longest career outing, relieving Ethridge in the fifth and carrying the team through the final out. Miller went 3.1 innings on the mound, allowing just one run on a two-out, eighth-inning RBI double, while striking out two. Because Miller remained for over three innings, his outing earned him a save, the first of his career in his first opportunity.

Catcher Cooper Johnson was electric in the season debut today, going 3-for-4 at the plate with just a triple needed for the cycle. Johnson, making his first start since being named full-time catcher after splitting time with Nick Fortes a season ago, led it off with an early home run in the second, before an RBI single in the fourth and a double in the sixth.

Johnson's three hits beat his career best of two, which he has accomplished eight times previously. He struggled at the plate in 2018, mustering just a .235 batting average through 26 games a season ago, but will head into day two of the new season with a .750 mark at the plate.

Sophomore Tyler Keenan, the reigning Freshman All-American selection, got the party started early with a two-out, first inning solo homer to left center, and the Rebels didn't look back. Ole Miss managed to plate a run in all but two innings and were in solid command by the 6th inning with an eight-run edge over the Raiders.

Ryan Olenek made for some nifty baserunning late in the fifth, when a strikeout by Cole Zabowski actually turned out to be good fortune for the Rebels. The Raider catcher couldn't field the ball cleanly, and threw down to first for the out, when Olenek, recognizing his opportunity, made a break for home for the Rebels' fourth run of the game.

Thomas Dillard managed to score just one batter later on another errant throw by the Wright State pitcher, but the real offensive firepower came in the sixth inning.

After Johnson's leadoff double to the wall, he was knocked in by a Grae Kessinger sac fly to center. Servideo, who reached on a walk, came home with still one down on another sac fly from the bat of Tyler Keenan, who had two RBI today. Olenek, who reached after being hit by a pitch, scored all the way from first on a Dillard double to the wall, and the Rebels claimed an eight-run advantage after six.

If the team's eight runs weren't enough to hold the lead, the Rebels added two more in the eighth for insurance. Michael Fitzsimmons, the team captain, entered in a pinch-hitting opportunity and did what he does best, knocking in freshman Justin Bench on an RBI single. Zabowski elected to get in on the fun with the team's tenth run of the day, that came on a two-out double to the wall.

Freshman Knox Loposer, Josh Hall, and Bench all made their career debuts today in either pinch-hitting, running, or fielding spots. Bench recorded his first career run after being sent home by the bat of Fitzsimmons.

The Rebels will be back in action tomorrow as they go for the series clincher at noon against Wright State at Swayze Field.

Quick Hits
- Ole Miss improves to 18-1 in season openers under Mike Bianco.
- Ole Miss is now 25-1 since the beginning of 2018 versus non-SEC opponents.
- The Rebels also improve to 7-3 all-time against the Raiders.
- Junior catcher Cooper Johnson notched a new career high in hits with three, including a homer in the second, just the third of his career. Johnson was a triple shy of the cycle.
- Junior reliever Austin Miller set a new career high in innings pitched with 3.1 in relief of Ethridge.
- Thomas Dillard had his seventh career three-hit game on Friday with two singles and an RBI double in the sixth.
- Junior Will Ethridge went 5.2 innings in his first start since his freshman year without giving up a single run.
- Reigning Freshman All-American Tyler Keenan added to his hitting prowess with the Rebels' first home run of 2019, a solo shot to left-center.
- Sophomore Anthony Servideo entered today with just one stolen base but tripled his career total with two swiped bags on the basepath today.
- Freshman Justin Bench made his Rebel debut today with an entry at second base in the eighth inning and recorded his first career run on a Michael Fitzsimmons RBI single.
- Freshmen Josh Hall and Knox Loposer also made their Rebel debuts today.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 497790

Reported Deaths: 9917
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34102530
DeSoto31839398
Hinds31837622
Jackson24314377
Rankin21881388
Lee15427234
Madison14525279
Jones13772241
Forrest13412250
Lauderdale11937314
Lowndes10934185
Lamar10470135
Pearl River9431237
Lafayette8454138
Hancock7697126
Washington7365156
Oktibbeha7111129
Monroe6727174
Warren6642176
Pontotoc6609101
Neshoba6606205
Panola6460131
Marshall6386132
Bolivar6266145
Union596094
Pike5784152
Alcorn5633101
Lincoln5417134
George491879
Scott470998
Tippah465381
Prentiss464181
Leflore4627143
Itawamba4596104
Adams4570119
Tate4546109
Copiah445191
Simpson4421116
Wayne438572
Yazoo438586
Covington427394
Marion4216107
Sunflower4215104
Coahoma4115104
Leake407787
Newton380879
Grenada3692108
Stone358464
Tishomingo356391
Attala330289
Jasper328265
Winston313191
Clay306375
Chickasaw296767
Clarke290694
Calhoun277945
Holmes266987
Smith262550
Yalobusha232647
Tallahatchie225251
Walthall217763
Greene215548
Lawrence211140
Perry204755
Amite203954
Webster201645
Noxubee185340
Montgomery179056
Jefferson Davis170642
Carroll167438
Tunica158639
Benton147438
Kemper141241
Choctaw133026
Claiborne131237
Humphreys129038
Franklin119128
Quitman106227
Wilkinson104539
Jefferson94234
Sharkey64020
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 813481

Reported Deaths: 15179
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1139971910
Mobile722271323
Madison51970686
Shelby37279341
Baldwin37069540
Tuscaloosa34934599
Montgomery33953725
Lee23142240
Calhoun22142470
Morgan20639372
Etowah19758496
Marshall18245300
Houston17302405
St. Clair15912337
Cullman15306290
Limestone15202198
Elmore15075284
Lauderdale14143294
Talladega13715272
DeKalb12569259
Walker11085366
Blount10094174
Autauga9893146
Jackson9789180
Coffee9182189
Dale8859181
Colbert8789200
Tallapoosa7044195
Escambia6732127
Covington6682179
Chilton6587160
Russell625958
Franklin5930105
Chambers5559142
Marion4955126
Dallas4882199
Clarke472782
Pike4719105
Geneva4564126
Winston4473101
Lawrence4264117
Bibb421686
Barbour355475
Marengo334089
Monroe330262
Randolph327063
Butler324794
Pickens313882
Henry310965
Hale309187
Cherokee299957
Fayette290679
Washington250951
Cleburne246958
Crenshaw243575
Clay240367
Macon230562
Lamar215846
Conecuh185652
Coosa178538
Lowndes173761
Wilcox167438
Bullock151744
Perry138040
Sumter131038
Greene125544
Choctaw86927
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A cold front passing through our area overnight will bring into our area some of the coolest temperatures of the season so far. We will see most of the highs this weekend only in the upper 60s to lower 70s. While overnight lows will drop off down into the 40s Saturday night.
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