One Down

The Ole Miss baseball team needs wins. Mission accomplished Tuesday night in a big way.

The Rebels beat Central Arkansas 18-4 in a game that was out of hand – or in hand, as the case may be - early. Ole Miss got 21 hits in the game on its way to victory.

“Everyone in the starting lineup got a hit, a RBI, and a run scored,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “I don’t know if we’ve ever done that. It was just one of those nights. A team that’s struggling comes up and gets 21 hits, and hard hits. A bunch of good swings and just proud of the way we swung it.”

It was one of those nights Ole Miss had to have, especially from a win-loss record. The Rebels are desperately seeking a record of over .500. That’s what the NCAA requires for a team to play in its postseason tournament.

Tuesday night’s win lifted the Rebels slightly over that mark at 21-20. They have plenty of other chances in the near future to either build on this win or slip back to .500 or below. Next up is Memphis Wednesday night in Oxford.

Then Alabama comes to Oxford for three games, and there’s a trip to Pearl to face Mississippi State on Tuesday, April 28.

“I was seeing the ball well and just trying to get my bat through the zone,” said Connor Cloyd, who was 4-for-5 with 3 RBI and 3 runs scored. “I felt like everyone built off each other getting hits. It was a great night.”

J.B. Woodman, 4-for-6 with 2 RBI and 4 runs scored, said it was good to see the offense really get on track.

“We put some runs up and swung the bats well,” Woodman said. “We were aggressive all night and it paid off.”

In the top of the first inning, a beautiful snag of a line drive ball by Errol Robinson that he had to dive for ended the top of the first, leaving the bases full of Bears and only one run home in the frame.

The Rebel bats were alive in the bottom of the first with back to back to back to back singles from Cloyd, Woodman, Will Golsan, and Colby Bortles. Golsan and Bortles drove in runs. Sikes Orvis walked, followed by a Robinson single that got both Golsan and Bortles home.

UCA, at that point, changed pitchers as starter Corey Herndon was pulled in favor of Bo Stitch. But the Rebels’ offensive firepower continued as Henri Lartigue singled and two runs came home – Orvis and Bortles. Tate Blackman singled to get Robinson home, and there were still no outs in the first.

Cameron Dishon reached on a fielder’s choice as Lartigue was out at third base for the first out for UCA. But Cloyd then tripled to drive in Blackman and Dishon to make it 8-1 Rebels.

That called for another pitching change as Stitch was out and Chris Durham was in. Woodman flew out to left field, and Will Golsan flew out to deep center field.

It was still 8-1 and the first inning had taken 40 minutes to play. UCA had used three pitchers already and would call on six in the game. Starter Herndon (0-2) got the loss.

From then on the Rebels simply continued to roll. Rebel starter Mitchel Babb made it through four complete innings, and by that time Ole Miss led 14-3.

Matt Denny relieved Babb after four innings. Babb, with the win and now 2-0, allowed only one earned run on seven hits with a strikeout and two walks.

Denny also went four innings, allowing just one run on four hits with four strikeouts. Scott Ashford pitched the top of the ninth with a hit but no damage along with two strikeouts.

“He minimized the first inning and only allowed one run. And even though he gave up some runs, he really did what we asked him to do,” Bianco said of Babb. “Denny was the best he’s pitched all year. And Scott struck out two. What will get lost in all those runs is that we pitched pretty well.”

The Rebels host Memphis Wednesday night. They defeated the Tigers on March 31 by a 7-5 final score in Memphis. Then Alabama is here for three games this weekend.

“Five games this week. We need five wins,” Woodman said. “This year, especially late in the year while we’re fighting to get into the (NCAA) Tournament. We definitely talk about it, hopefully getting a hot streak and playing well.”

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