Ole Miss got back in the win column, barely. The Rebels beat visiting Georgia State 1-0 behind solid pitching and defense. It’s a team still searching for its offense to reemerge.
Kyle Watson, the junior outfielder who was in center field for this game, put the only number on the scoreboard for either team with a solo home run in the bottom of the second inning. Other than that, those who came to see runs scored were disappointed. Those who came to see pitching and defense left satisfied, especially if they are Ole Miss supporters.
True freshman Ryan Rolison drew his first collegiate start. After five relief appearances, the Jackson, Tenn., left-hander went five innings against GSU allowing no runs on four hits with five strikeouts and two walks.
Entering the sixth another true freshman, right-hander Greer Holston, pitched two innings and struck out three with a walk. Junior closer Will Stokes finished things up with a couple of innings of work, but a bit of a scary finish. After two were out in the ninth, Stokes allowed a single to Cam Perry of the Panthers who was pinch hitting. But a groundout by Jaylen Woullard ended the game.
Offensively the Rebels had only three hits. Starter Brandon Baker went 5.2 innings and it was off him that Watson launched his. A couple of relievers, Tanner Thomson and Rhett Harper, pitched the rest of the way and kept the Rebels at bay.
Co-captains Colby Bortles and Tate Blackman were suspended indefinitely prior to the game for undisclosed reasons.
After a tough week, a victory was what the Rebels needed, and what they got. They snapped a four-game skid and now stand 8-4 with another game versus Georgia State (6-5) on Wednesday at 3 p.m.
Junior OF Kyle Watson
On the team getting a win after four straight losses: “I feel like we played three really good teams in Baylor, Texas Tech, and TCU. I feel we didn’t play as well as we should have. But we’re focusing on the games ahead and putting those in the past. On if he knew the home run was gone when he hit it: “I honestly didn’t. I was yelling down the line for it to get up. I tried to put a good swing on it in a hitter’s count. It was a fast ball.” On Ryan Rollison, who works fast on the mound: “He’s really fun to watch. He’s going to be something special here. He’s really a good pitcher.” On true freshman Bryce Blaum at second base: “That’s so awesome for him to get an opportunity. Turning a couple of double plays, getting a hit, just making the most of his opportunities, it was awesome to see that.” On what the team can do to get out of the offensive funk: “I feel we need to flush all the bad at-bats. Coach (Mike) Clement and Coach (Marc) MacMillan are working with us to stay simple at the plate and get in good hitter’s counts and to get in good hitting position. If we do that we’ll be good. Just keep swinging.”
True freshman 2B Bryce Blaum
On his start: “It was an awesome experience. I owe it to the coaches. They say stay ready all the time, keep practicing, and when you get your shot, take advantage of it.” On the mindset after a tough weekend and playing without the two captains: “Just play hard. Stick together as a team. The results will turn for themselves.”
True freshman LHP Ryan Rolison
On how he felt out there: “I felt good. I filled the zone up. We had a scouting report on them and I tried to get ahead with offspeed pitches. We knew they were aggressive at the plate. That was our strategy going in. Later on in the game I tried to overthrow a little bit and missed some arm side. Next time I want to try to get ahead and try to get contact within the first three pitches.” On when he knew he would start: “I knew last week that I was going to start, either Tuesday or Wednesday.” On the difference in relieving or starting: “Every pitcher is a starter in high school. Everybody can’t be a starter at the next level. Being out of the pen, I accepted that role. It’s good to get back on the mound as a starter. It felt good.”
Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco
On Bryce Blaum at second base: “Not only does he get a hit, he gets a walk and it seemed like he caught 12 ground balls. I think he caught as many ground balls tonight as we’ve had at second base in a couple of weeks. The ball will find you when you haven’t been out there.” On not getting runs in: “We’re struggling a little bit offensively. It’s tough. But I’m proud of the way they hung in there.” On Kyle Watson:“We need him. We need him to be a big part. He’s so talented. That ball he hit tonight, there were several balls hit really well to center field that had no shot. His was a no doubter to left center field. He can do so much for us.” On Ryan Rolison: “He’s been really good out of the bullpen for us. But it’s different when you start. He handled it against a good offensive team. He pitched well and we needed every bit of it.” On Will Stokes: “It seems like forever (since he’s pitched). I thought he was really good tonight. He was sharp.” On the suspension of co-captains Colby Bortles and Tate Blackman: “I haven’t set the number of games. We’ll discuss it every day with them.”
OXFORD, Miss. – (Ole Miss SID) Kyle Watson’s solo home run proved to be all No. 14 Ole Miss needed in a 1-0 victory over Georgia State Tuesday night at Swayze Field. Returning to Oxford, the Rebels (8-4) got back on the winning track and snapped a four-game losing skid.
Ole Miss claimed a 1-0 victory for the first time since Feb. 23, 2013 (vs. Rhode Island). It was the 54th 1-0 game in program history as well as the fourth consecutive win in that scenario.
Three Rebels combined to give Ole Miss its first shutout of 2017. Freshman Ryan Rolison (2-0) made his first career start, going 5.0 innings and adding five strikeouts. Freshman Greer Holston followed, contributing 2.0 scoreless innings to set up Will Stokes (3). Pitching for the first time in 10 days, the Ole Miss closer earned his second six-out save of the year. The trio of Rebel arms recorded 10 strikeouts on the night, while walking four.
With his homer in the second inning, Watson became the eighth Rebel to leave the yard this season. Freshman Bryce Blaum, making his first career start, added his first career hit and made multiple plays with his glove at second base.
Brandon Baker (0-2) took the loss for Georgia State (6-5), going 5.2 innings and allowing only one run on two hits. Leadoff hitter Justin Jones paced the Panthers offensively with two of the team’s six hits.
Rolison gave up a leadoff single, but he quickly wiped the runner off the base path by forcing a groundball double play on the next at-bat. After two scoreless frames from their starting pitcher, the Rebels took a 1-0 lead on a Watson long ball to left-center field.
In the top of the fourth, GSU loaded the bases in hopes of claiming the lead. However, Rolison worked out of the jam when Watson caught a fly ball in center. He followed the tough frame with a scoreless fifth to complete his first start.
Holston entered the game in relief, allowing only one hit and one walk in his 2.0 innings of work to keep Ole Miss out in front. Stokes continued the trend, shaking off a two-out GSU single in the ninth to secure the game for the home squad.
The Rebels will look to complete the midweek sweep of Georgia State tomorrow at 3 p.m. Freshman Will Ethridge will make his second start of the year for Ole Miss.