OXFORD, Miss. (WTVA/Ole Miss Athletics) - No. 6 Ole Miss baseball (19-2, 2-1) brought the energy on Sunday, scoring five while starter James McArthur and reliever Parker Caracci ensured that that would be more than enough to down Tennessee (13-8, 1-2). Combined, the two allowed no runs on just four hits, the Rebels' second shutout of the year, while striking out 11 between them to take the series from the Volunteers.
At the plate, Ole Miss had their third three-home run game of the season, with Thomas Dillard, Cole Zabowski, and Jacob Adams each going for the long ball. Adams led the game off with a bang, sending a ball over the right field wall for an early 1-0 lead, the Rebels' first leadoff home run since Tate Blackman did the same on April 28, 2017.
Ryan Olenek added the team's final, and only non-long-ball related, run on an RBI double in the fifth, but the real story was the dominance of the Rebel pitching staff.
McArthur, the junior making his fifth consecutive Sunday start, went 6.0 scoreless innings, allowing the zero runs on just two hits while striking out four and letting three reach on a walk. The veteran kept the game boring when he needed to and stifled the Volunteer bats for six innings to allow the Rebels to take the lead at the plate.
His successor, however, was absolutely dominant. Caracci, the redshirt sophomore, filled in for McArthur beginning in the seventh, and, although he pitched three less innings than the starter, he recorded three more strikeouts.
Caracci recorded nine outs, seven of them without help on strikeouts, and allowed just two baserunners late in the ninth when the game was already sealed.
Caracci finished with 3.0 IP, no runs on a pair of hits, and seven strikeouts without a walk. He picked up the first save of his young career, while increasing his strikeout-to-walk ratio to 25-1, and set a new career-high in strikeouts with seven.
The Rebels didn't need much at the plate thanks to the combined work of McArthur and Caracci, but they got it anyways with the help of the long ball.
Adams began the scoring with his leadoff home run in the first, the second of his season, and the Rebels took an early 1-0 lead but were unable to capitalize on two runners in scoring position with just one out. The second inning proved identical, where the Rebels landed multiple runners in scoring position, but they were again stranded, and the 1-0 stalemate continued into the fifth inning.
Both teams were plagued by 1-2-3 innings all game, and the Rebels did not land a baserunner after the second until the fifth, when Adams reached on an error.
When he made it to second on a wild pitch, Olenek made them pay with an RBI double, his team-high seventh on the year, to give Ole Miss a two-run advantage.
Zabowski added another in the sixth, a no-doubter home run to right, and Dillard sealed the deal with his own in the eighth, a two-run shot after being caught on the warning track two times before in the game.
The Rebels improved to 19-2 on the year and 2-1 in SEC play with the win over Tennessee today. Ole Miss will be in action again on Tuesday at 11 a.m. CT against New Orleans in the annual kids' day game, before taking on Texas A&M next weekend in their first road SEC test.
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