It’s become a broken record but in a good way. Teams are having a hard time scoring on Ole Miss. In the past six games, five times they haven’t.
So what is it about this pitching staff? Sure, some of them are young, like Tuesday night’s starter Ryan Rolison, the left-handed true freshman from Jackson, Tenn. And other young ones like Will Ethridge, Greer Holston, Houston Roth, Jason Barber, and then throw in the sophomores and juniors, and it’s been a stretch of pitching like most have not seen here.
Before we become too giddy about how good it’s been, and it has been really good, let’s remember this. Vanderbilt comes to town this weekend for three games. Southeastern Conference play is here. That’s not to diminish what’s happened on the mound against Georgia State, Furman, and Nicholls State, because this Rebels staff also pitched decently against Baylor, Texas Tech, and TCU. The pitchers just got no offensive help in Houston. And while the hitting and scoring hasn’t been spectacular, it has improved lately. And Tuesday night it appeared to be better than most games recently.
It’s almost as if, in recent contests at least, you can ignore the game for a while, take a few opposing batters off from watching, maybe go to the concession stand, and you come back and the other team hasn’t even threatened. Again, Vandy should be a little different story, although the Commodores haven’t set the woods on fire with their 12-6 record. They come to Oxford after an 8-1 win at home against Western Kentucky Tuesday night. But they’ll have plenty of talent and focus when they get here.
Rolison went six innings and then Connor Green, Roth, and Sean Johnson closed it out the final three frames. That Johnson pitched in the game is another splash of good news for Ole Miss. Struggling with injury throughout his time here, Johnson got the Colonels three up, three down in the ninth to end it. Add Johnson to the pitching mix, and if he stays healthy, that means more depth and another quality arm.
A couple of bombs by Tate Blackman and Thomas Dillard and Rebel baseball on the Mississippi gulf coast was a winner in more ways than one. The coastal crowd was large, into it, and supportive. The Rebels will likely be back on the coast again to play more games because of it.
Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco
On his pitchers: “It starts with the starting pitcher, and Ryan was terrific today. Wind’s blowing out to right with a lot of left-handers in the lineup. He filled up the strike zone all night. True freshman out there and in his second start in a row he hasn’t given up any runs. Connor Green looked like he’s been pitching every day. Houston Roth totally fills up the strike zone and doesn’t allow any hits. Sean Johnson hasn’t pitched in over a year. He’s 90 with an 81 mile an hour slider in the strike zone.” On the home run by Tate Blackman: “It was a good two-strike swing, and even though he hit it well, I didn’t think it would get out of here. But he got all of that one and had a lot of good at-bats. He looked really good tonight.” On playing a game on the Mississippi gulf coast and with a supportive crowd: “That was really neat, and they were in it the whole game and excited. It’s a beautiful stadium and a lot of people showed up on a cold night on the coast. A lot of them stayed for autographs, and that was neat to see.”
BILOXI, Miss. – (Ole Miss SID) Playing on the Mississippi Coast for the first time in 106 years, No. 14 Ole Miss increased its shutout streak to four games with a 5-0 win over Nicholls Tuesday night at MGM Park in Biloxi, Mississippi. The Rebels (12-5) broke out the bats, while their pitching limited the Colonels (9-7) to only four hits.
For the sixth consecutive game, an Ole Miss starting pitcher did not allow a run. The streak began last Tuesday with Ryan Rolison, and the freshman continued what he started with a career-long 6.0 innings on the mound. The Jackson, Tennessee native, surrendered only four hits and a walk, while tallying a career-high seven strikeouts in his second start.
At the plate, Ole Miss reached double digits in hits. Tate Blackman used a two-run homer and a triple to knock in three runs to lead the way. Will Golsan, Thomas Dillard and Bryan Seamster added two hits apiece, with Dillard hitting his second home run of the season. Along with his multi-hit game, Seamster made a pair of spectacular catches in left field, his first start as a Rebel.
The Rebels jumped on the board right away. Rolison pitched a scoreless first before Blackman belted his two-run homer to give Ole Miss a 2-0 lead. Golsan led off the inning with an infield single. Two batters later, Blackman sent a blast that soared over the scoreboard in left field to put the Rebels in front.
The top of the order doubled the Ole Miss advantage in the top of the third. Golsan started the scoring frame once again with an infield single. Then Blackman nearly left the yard for the second time, but the ball caromed off the wall as the second baseman motored to third. Golsan scored easily, and Colby Bortles followed with a sacrifice fly to make in 4-0 in favor of Ole Miss.
After retiring the side in back-to-back innings, Rolison added a scoreless sixth to finish his impressive outing. In the bottom half of the frame, Dillard smoked a ball into the left-center gap that easily cleared the fence. The solo homer increased the Rebels lead to 5-0.
A trio of Rebels finished the game on the rubber, allowing only one Colonel to reach base through the final three frames. Connor Green worked a perfect seventh, striking out two. Houston Roth followed with a scoreless eighth, and redshirt-senior Sean Johnson made his 2017 debut with a 1-2-3 ninth to solidify a win on the coast.
Following the midweek contest, the Rebels will return home to lift the lid on Southeastern Conference play by hosting No. 15 Vanderbilt (March 17-19). The first two games of the series will air on SECN+, while the series finale will be a national television broadcast. Friday’s contest will begin at 7 p.m. before an afternoon matinee is set for 1:30 p.m. Saturday. To close out the weekend, the Rebels and Commodores will square off at 3 p.m. on SEC Network.