Sometimes bouncing back from a losing weekend can be tough for a team. How about coming back down from sweeping a Top Ten team to play again two nights later? Ole Miss 16, Arkansas State 4 is your answer.
As a matter of fact through four games, all of them wins, it appears this team could be one of those that doesn’t have a lot of ups and downs. There will be losses – it’s baseball. But there seems to be a level of maturity and confidence already, even with a ton of younger players on the squad.
No greater example on this night than true freshman right-hander Will Ethridge, who waited his turn through the first three games to get the Rebels’ initial midweek start for 2017. But he only set the tone with his ten strikeouts and ultimate victory. Three more freshmen – Houston Roth of Oxford High made his debut, Ryan Rollison and Greer Holston pitched for the second time each as Rebels – had nine more strikeouts collectively.
It was a veteran that led the hit parade for the Rebels against the Red Wolves, who were down 5-0 after a five-run second inning by the home team. Junior Will Golsan was 4-for-5 at the plate with 2 RBI and 4 runs scored. Three of his hits were doubles.
After ASU tacked on two runs in the third, Ole Miss blew the game open with three in the third and three more in the fourth. At 11-2, it was over.
True freshman Thomas Dillard was 3-for-4 with 2 runs scored. Sophomore catcher Nick Fortes was 2-for-4 with 2 RBI and a run scored. Junior Kyle Watson was 2-for-3 with a RBI and 2 runs scored.
This team has lots of weapons on offense and lots of arms for the mound. Through four games a bunch of different names on the roster have played and some extensively.
After handing ASU its first loss in five games this season, the Rebels will take their 4-0 mark into a three-game series at home against North Carolina-Wilmington Friday through Sunday. The first one starts at 4 p.m. and the next two days first pitch is at the noon hour.
Freshman right-handed pitcher Will Ethridge
On his approach to the game: “My goal for the evening was (pitching) on my own terms. Coach (Mike Bianco) told us yesterday to go out there and pitch how we pitched during the fall and spring. We’d worked hard for it. I just wanted to come out on my own terms there.” On his feeling the past two days leading up to his collegiate debut: “I was just really thinking about doing my job for the team, get out there and put up some zeroes and give my team a chance to win.” On how he felt in the fifth inning, which was his last in this game: “There were some pitches I tried forcing and that made me miss some locations. But I felt like if I could get back in the zone I could get ground balls how I’m used to doing, get a couple of swings and misses and maybe a few more strikeouts.”
Junior right fielder Will Golsan
On what he saw from Will Ethridge on the mound tonight: “Oh man, ten strikeouts, first game. He was lights out. His fast ball was there. His curve ball was there. All during the fall and the (preseason) he was one of the guys you had to compete against every day. So it’s a good feeling to be behind that.” On his hitting: “I’m just trying to get the barrel on the ball and have quality at-bats.” On the team’s 16 hits and 16 runs: “We were locked in and trying to get quality at-bats. We were swinging the bat well.” On Thomas Dillard’s offense: “He’s a heavy hitter and has quality at-bats. He doesn’t try to do too much. He stays late when it’s two strikes. He’s a veteran hitter up there as a true freshman.”
Ole Miss assistant coach Mike Clement
On Will Ethridge: “He has really good stuff, and he’s going to be a really good pitcher for us. It was good for him to get his feet wet and throw and get a win. On Will Golsan: “He’s the guy that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. He probably has the most career at-bats of anybody on this team than (Colby) Bortles. He hits close to .300 every year. Goes about his business, tremendously hard worker, keeps his mouth shut and really plays the game the right way.” On Dillard’s approach: “This past weekend he saw some really tough pitches that he laid off and didn’t chase. If you watch his BP, you almost think it’s home run derby. Then he gets in the game and has a really mature approach, takes what they give him. Really good hitter. He’s come in and not missed a beat through four games.” On the team’s offensive approach so far:“Proud of our guys, especially on a day like this when it’s raining and drizzling all day long. We didn’t take BP on the field. I was really proud of the approach, sticking to what we do and taking runs where we can get them, taking singles, not coming out of our shoes swinging. I was proud of our approach tonight.”
OXFORD, Miss. – Four freshmen dazzled on the mound, and 16 hits at the plate led the No. 8 Ole Miss baseball team to a 16-4 thumping of Arkansas State Tuesday night at Swayze Field. With the win, the Rebels (4-0) remained unbeaten in 2017 and were victorious in their first midweek game of the year.
The young quartet of Will Ethridge (1-0), Houston Roth, Ryan Rolison and Greer Holston combined for 19 strikeouts, the most by an Ole Miss pitching staff since a 16-inning game in 2015 and only two off the school record.
Making his debut, Ethridge mowed down the Red Wolves (4-1). He recorded 10 strikeouts, the most by an Ole Miss freshman since 2007 and the most in an Ole Miss debut this century. Roth, another freshman making his first appearance as a Rebel, struck out five over 2.0 scoreless innings of work. Rolison and Holston closed out the contest with one inning apiece, keeping ASU off the scoreboard.
At the plate, junior Will Golsan led the way with a 4-for-5 performance that included four runs, three doubles and two RBI. Freshman Thomas Dillard recorded a career-high three hits, while Nick Fortes and Kyle Watson posted multi-hit games as well. Nine Rebels recorded hits throughout the night, including the first in the career of freshman Bryan Seamster.
Bo Ritter (0-1) was saddled with the loss for ASU, giving up seven runs in 2.2 innings. Catcher Justin Felix had two of the team’s five hits, and Casey Vaughan added a solo home run.
After Ethridge retired the first six hitters of the game, which included four straight strikeouts, the Rebels sent 10 hitters to the plate in the second. Dillard led off the inning with a single before advancing into scoring on a Cole Zabowski four-pitch walk. Fortes brought Dillard around to score on chopper over the third baseman’s head for the first run of the game. Two walks and a hit batsman allowed two more runs to cross the plate. Chase Cockrell ended the big inning with a two-RBI single, giving Ole Miss a 5-0 lead.
The Red Wolves responded in the third, taking advantage of a Rebel miscue that kept the inning alive. A double by first baseman Joe Schrimpf cut the lead to three. However, Ole Miss countered with three runs in the bottom half to double the margin to six, 8-2. The home team wasn’t finished building its lead, tallying three more runs in the fourth to eclipse double digits for the first time this season.
Cruising through the first four innings, Ethridge faced some adversity in the fifth when Vaughan led off the inning with a solo homer to left. A walk and a pair of wild pitches allowed another run to cross the plate, but the freshman calmed down to force a double play, get out of the inning and finish his debut night on a high note.
Coming out of the Ole Miss bullpen for the first time in his career, Roth continued what Ethridge started. The Oxford native allowed only two hits, while earning five of his six outs via the strikeout. His relief appearance kept the Rebels ahead comfortably before the lead grew once again. In the seventh, Golsan doubled for the third time in the game and later scored on a groundout. Sophomore outfielder DJ Miller added a pinch-hit RBI double to make it 13-4.
With three more hits in addition to an ASU error, Ole Miss plated three more runs in the eighth. Holston finished the job with a scoreless ninth, closing out the dominating performance.
The homestand continues with a tough non-conference weekend series as the Rebels battle UNCW, an NCAA Regional qualifier and defending champion of the Colonial Athletic Association (Feb. 24-26). The action begins Friday at 4 p.m., and all three game will be broadcast on SECN+.