OXFORD, Miss. (Ole Miss Athletics/WTVA) - Ole Miss loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth, and its three-hole hitter stepped to the plate with two outs and a chance to tie it up. Unfortunately, the comeback wasn't meant to be as the Rebels fell 9-5 to Wright State, evening the series at one.
The Raiders filled up the scoreboard early, and jumped on the Rebels with eight runs in the first four frames. The Raiders never looked back, setting the stage for Sunday's rubber match at noon.
The Rebels simply couldn't put together timely hits, and were outhit at the plate 12 to eight by Wright State. Although Ole Miss managed to string together five late-inning runs, it simply wasn't enough to overcome the large deficit.
Junior Zack Phillips had a rough Rebel debut, managing just 2.2 innings on the mound before he was relieved. An early error led to a run scored in the first for the Raiders. Phillips managed to put up a zero in the second, but he finished his debut start with five runs allowed on seven hits, two walks, and one strikeout, after a four-run third doomed his outing.
Fellow newcomer Taylor Broadway didn't fare much better in relief of Phillips. Broadway managed to stop the bleeding in the third inning with a quick out but only lasted one out into the next inning. He allowed three runs on three hits and two walks in the fourth inning, before Max Cioffi settled the Raider bats in relief of Broadway.
Cioffi was electric in his 3.2 innings and had himself a day to remember. The sophomore set career bests in innings pitched as well as strikeouts (five), and held the Raiders scoreless while allowing just one hit from the middle of the fourth until the conclusion of the seventh inning.
Following in Cioffi's stead was the freshman Kaleb Hill, who threw the final two frames of today's ballgame in his collegiate debut. Hill gave up one run in the ninth inning, but held the Raiders to just one hit while recording his first career strikeout.
Meanwhile, in the other dugout, Wright State's starter Zane Collins was tremendous through four on the mound, allowing just one hit to the Rebels' Jacob Adams. Ole Miss finally found some chink in the armor of Collins in the fifth inning, when a Cooper Johnson's RBI single scored Chase Cockrell, and Ryan Olenek followed it up with a two-run home run.
Thomas Dillard brought some excitement back to the stadium with a monster solo home run in the eighth inning, but it proved not to be enough as the Rebel bats just couldn't muster lengthy innings.
The Raiders and Rebels will go for it all tomorrow with a rubber match scheduled for noon on Sunday. Gunnar Hoglund will be the Rebels' arm in his first collegiate start, and the freshman will look to even the score after today's four-run loss.
- Ole Miss falls to 1-1 on the season, with the series' rubber match set for Sunday at noon.
- Max Cioffi had a career day on the bump, going 3.2 innings in relief, his most in a Rebel uniform. The sophomore also struck out five, a career high, while holding the Raiders scoreless on just one hit.
- Junior College transfers Zack Phillips and Taylor Broadway, as well as freshman Kaleb Hill, all made their collegiate debuts on the mound today.
- Thomas Dillard, the 2018 Rebel home run leader, notched his first homer of the year with a solo shot to deep in the right field student section in the eighth inning. Dillard has seen nine plate appearances so far this series, and has reached base on eight of his opportunities.
- Jacob Adams had a productive first start of the new year, going 2-for-3 at the plate with a pair of singles.