HOOVER, Ala. (Ole Miss Athletics/WTVA) - The No. 4 Ole Miss baseball team dominated No. 21 Auburn, 7-0, Friday afternoon to advance to the semifinals of the SEC Tournament for the second time in three years.
After a two-hour, 13-minute rain delay pushed the start of the game back, Ole Miss used a brilliant start by James McArthur and three home runs to down the Tigers for the fourth time in five meetings this season. The junior right-hander went 5.1 innings, striking out six and allowing no runs on five hits and just one walk.
The Rebels move on to face Texas A&M in a single-elimination semifinal game Saturday afternoon.
Thomas Dillard brought an end to an early pitchers’ duel in the fourth inning. Nick Fortes led off the frame with a single to left for the Rebels’ first hit of the evening, and Dillard came through with the second—a monstrous shot more than 400 feet out to straightaway center to put Ole Miss up 2-0.
McArthur retired the Tigers in order in the bottom half of the fourth and kept them off the scoreboard again in the fifth, allowing the Rebel bats to add some more insurance. Dillard began the rally with a walk, and Cole Zabowski drove him home with a double down the left field line. After an infield single by Will Golsan, Tim Rowe sent Zabowski home on an RBI groundout to make it a four-run lead.
Max Cioffi relieved McArthur with runners on first and second and one out in the sixth and escaped the jam, battling his way to a flyout on an eight-pitch at-bat, followed by a gutsy backward K to end the inning.
Jacob Adams tacked on another insurance run, leading off the seventh inning with a shot over the right field wall. Cioffi kept rolling in the bottom half, retiring the Tigers in order thanks to two strong plays by Grae Kessinger and a foul ball that Zabowski pulled back from the second row down the first base line for the third out.
Cioffi stayed perfect in the eighth, inducing three flyouts, the last at the end of a 10-pitch battle to send the game to the ninth. Chase Cockrell joined the home-run party in the ninth, demolishing a no-doubter out to left field. Ryan Olenek knocked a base hit to right field later in the inning, and Nick Fortes sent him home with a base hit to left.
The Rebels will take on Texas A&M in the semifinals Saturday at noon CT.