Chase Cockrell, a first-year Rebel, launched one that got out in a hurry. Thomas Dillard, a true freshman, sent one into the students in right later. The long ball helped Ole Miss beat North Carolina-Wilmington 7-2 Friday, but so did the pitching.
For the second week in a row, starter David Parkinson was sensational, and maybe even better this Friday than last, at least through the early innings. Not a Seahawk got aboard until the fifth and not a run was scored by the visitors until the seventh. When UNC-W got a solo homer from designated hitter Nick Feight and followed that up with a double by first baseman Mason Berne, Parkinson’s day was done.
In came Connor Green to get a couple of strikeouts before Dallas Woolfolk, one of the stars so far this season, entered to finish things off in the seventh and go the rest of the way, getting his second save. Parkinson got his second win.
It was in that seventh inning that UNC-W did scratch a couple of runs to close the gap to 5-2 Ole Miss. But the bottom of the eighth produced two runs for the final score, thanks to Dillard’s two-run blast. There will be more home runs from Dillard and from Cockrell, whose solo in the third followed up the four-run second for the Rebels. Those guys, along with several others throughout the lineup, are quality hitters.
The lack of offense from his team might have been Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco’s biggest disappointment, however, after leading 5-0 and things stalling out against a good UNC-W righty Alex Royalty.
But only three hits for the Seahwks was an impressive feat for the Rebel hurlers, as well as allowing only four additional baserunners outside the two who scored.
That Tate Blackman and Colby Bortles haven’t done much offensively isn’t a concern. They’ll come around. Two things, however, come to mind. They need to because the newcomers likely will have some bumps and 0-fers along the way as far as hitting. But, secondly, so far the first-year Rebels have for the most part been all they were advertised to be – Grae Kessinger leading the way today with three hits, his second three-hit game in five starts. Cockrell was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and his own RBI. And Dillard with his first round-tripper.
Tomorrow the Rebels and Seahawks get together at high noon. Same time on Sunday.
Ole Miss sophomore slugger, the DH Chase Cockrell
On his solo home run in the third inning, his first at Ole Miss: “I had no clue. I thought it was just a double in the gap. I knew I squared it up; I just didn’t think it was going to go. Fortunately it did.” On his fast start offensively to the season: “I’m surrounded by good players, good teammates, good coaches. Just couldn’t ask for anything better.” On how he is swinging the bat: “I feel good but I feel there’s still work to be done. Never satisfied, just keep getting better as a team and as a player.” On Royalty, the UNC-W starter: “Coming in we knew he liked his fast ball a lot, and he would work off speed, like slider. He likes that too. My approach is just fast ball and just to react off speed.”
Ole Miss starting pitcher LHP David Parkinson
On his start, sitting down the first 12 UNC-W batters: “Coach (Bianco) was calling a good, and I was just making pitches there and getting some quick outs.” On what worked for him tonight: “Everything. The only thing I wasn’t really having was my changeup. I was kind of spiking that a lot. I had my slider, my curve ball, and my fast ball.” On pitching with the early lead: “It’s actually a little tough. You lose that aggressive edge a little bit, and it’s kind of hard to lock back into the game. But Coach (Bianco) came over and talked to me and got me back in the game quick.” On some of the older guys being lifted by the younger guys on offense at this point: “Whenever somebody is down, somebody else steps up. This team is amazing. That’s why I think we’re going to be so good.”
Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco
On David Parkinson: “I thought David was terrific, especially early. His fast ball had a lot of life tonight. He mixed four pitches into the strike zone, much like he did last weekend, and worked both sides of the plate. He looked like he was in control. He lost his rhythm a little bit the last two innings he was out there. He’s a great competitor with great stuff.” On Dallas Woolfolk: “Terrific. He’s really grown up. Fast ball in the low to mid 90s and locating on both sides of the plate. Not just a thrower but throwing his slider and I think even three changeups tonight. With that kind of velocity and three pitches in the strike zone and your fast ball on both sides of the plate, it makes it tough for the other team.” On Grae Kessinger’s offense: “He’s seeing the ball well and getting some good hits off. He’s a ball player. He’s going to hit. He’s going to defend. Glad he’s off to a good start.” On not getting as much right now from Blackman and Bortles but other players coming through: “You look and two guys in the middle of the lineup haven’t done a lot. Not a lot of really good at-bats out of them. But a lot from others from (Ryan) Olenek, Kessinger, Cockrell, Dillard, Zbo (Cole Zabowski), there’s a lot of guys throughout the lineup that have picked up the slack in certain innings and certain games.” On his team’s offense: “I’m disappointed in our offensive effort. Anytime you score four early and get another, you’re thinking you’ll get to their bullpen early, but we really didn’t. We didn’t take advantage of that.”
OXFORD, Miss. – (Ole Miss SID) Another ranked team came to Swayze Field Friday night and just like last week, another left with its first loss of the season. A four-run second inning combined with a pitching staff that limited the visitors to three hits propelled the No. 8 Ole Miss baseball team to a 7-2 win over No. 23 UNCW.
The win keeps the Rebels (5-0) unbeaten on the season, while the Seahawks (3-1) suffered their first loss. Head coach Mike Bianco also picked up his 635th win as coach of the Rebels, passing longtime Auburn coach Hal Baird for seventh on the Southeastern Conference’s all-time wins list.
Starting pitcher David Parkinson (2-0) was perfect through four innings, and he pitched with a comfortable lead for the majority of his outing. The lefty earned the win by going 6.0 innings and allowing just two runs (one earned) on three hits. He also struck out six to match his career high for the second consecutive week. Closing out the game was sophomore Dallas Woolfolk (2), who didn’t allow a single baserunner in 2.1 innings of relief.
Freshman Grae Kessinger tallied his second three-hit night over the past three games, going 3-for-3 to provide a spark at the bottom of the lineup. Chase Cockrell went 2-for-4 with a pair of runs and added his first homer as a Rebel. Another newcomer, freshman Thomas Dillard, left the yard for the first time in an Ole Miss uniform with a two-run home run in the eighth inning.
Nick Feight and Mason Berne recorded UNCW’s three hits. Feight hit a solo home run, while Berne went 2-for-4 with a double. On the mound, Alex Royalty (1-1) gave up five runs on five hits and four walks in 6.0 innings of work.
After Parkinson retired the first six hitters of the game, the Rebels used patience at the plate to score the first run of the game in the bottom of the second. Dillard walked before stealing second base to get into scoring position. Back-to-back free passes, including a bases-loaded walk by Cooper Johnson, allowed Ole Miss to take the early lead. With the bases still full of Rebels, a Kessinger single and a Ryan Olenek sacrifice fly brought two more Rebels around to score. Will Golsan added another RBI base hit to finish the four-run inning.
Following another 1-2-3 inning by Parkinson, the Ole Miss lead grew to 5-0 when Cockrell laced a solo homer over the wall in left-center field. The Rebel starting pitcher remained perfect through the first four innings, but a leadoff hit in the fifth ended a streak of 12 straight hitters retired by the southpaw.
The Seahawks finally got on the board in the seventh when Feight started the inning with a home run to left. First baseman Mason Berne nearly went back-to-back but his double bounced off the center field wall, forcing Bianco to lift his starting pitcher with nobody out. After an error allowed another UNCW run to cross the plate, Connor Green and Woolfolk combined to get the Rebels out of the inning with a three-run cushion, 5-2.
Dillard brought the lead back to five in the bottom of the eighth. After Colby Bortles drew a walk, the Ole Miss freshman crushed a full-count pitch deep into the student section in right field. The two-run homer made it a 7-2 game, and Woolfolk sent the Seahawks down in order in the ninth to wrap up the win.
Ole Miss will look to lock up the series tomorrow as game two begins at 12 p.m. from Swayze Field. Sophomore James McArthur will make his second start of the 2017 campaign, matching up against UNCW’s Josh Roberson. Will Kollmeyer and David Dellucci will have the call on SECN+, while Eli Savoie and Keith Kessinger will bring you the game on the Ole Miss IMG Sports Network.