Tim Rowe strolled up to the media gathering following Ole Miss’ 1-0 win over Vanderbilt Friday night in the SEC opener. Grin on his face, introducing himself to those he might not have met, getting ready for a few questions. Red hard hat on his head.
Yes, you read that right. Red hard hat on his head. Had a No. 21 on it. It’s another team motivational reward following SEC games this year, much like the win of the day number on the t-shirt the Rebels have given to a player of the game for years.
Rowe, on this night, had both. Hard hat on head, t-shirt in hand.
It was a big night for the junior college transfer from Itawamba and a former Hernando High star. It was also a big night for Ole Miss as it beat another perennial power, an annual contender for top honors.
The Rebels are 13-5 now to go with their 1-0 SEC mark. Vandy fell to 12-7 and 0-1.
Ole Miss pitching has shutout its opponent five games in a row and six of the last seven games. That’s way more than impressive. That’s unfathomable. In 67 of the last 68 innings the Rebels haven’t allowed a run. Only Georgia State with an 11-inning 2-0 win a few games ago broke up the shutout streak.
Back to Rowe, the man of the night. Why? It was his RBI single in the sixth inning that allowed Colby Bortles to get home from third base and score the game’s only run. It was similar to several Ole Miss games lately, shut out the opponent and don’t score many runs themselves. A win is all that matters.
Certainly not a great offensive ballclub, at least not yet. But there’s still time, especially when some of the younger hitters grow up in the weeks ahead and get more used to the daily life of college baseball. And that will come.
Pitching credit on this night starts with David Parkinson as well. The junior ace went six innings and allowed three hits and four walks with five strikeouts. His counterpart for Vandy, Kyle Wright, was also sensational and drew high praise from Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco as a first-rounder, “a no doubter.” Wright went seven innings and gave up one run – the RBI single by Rowe – on six hits with four strikeouts and two walks.
Will Stokes took care of a couple of innings after Parkinson and reliable Dallas Woolfolk closed out the ninth for his fifth save.
It’s been such a collective team effort to get to this point, especially with the offense not being on fire in basically any game. A hit here, a run there, and some spectacular pitching and defense.
And then a winning moment from a pinch hitter like Rowe. Give that guy a t-shirt and a hard hat!
Same teams at 1:30 Saturday and 3 o’clock Sunday.
Junior pinch hitter Tim Rowe
On the hard hat: “We read a book called ‘The Hard Hat.’ It’s about George, who was a selfless teammate. After every game we give out the shirt. Now we give out the hard hat, which has 21 on it. That’s George’s number and also (one more than) the most SEC wins we’ve had here. So 21 is our goal and even more. We (the recipients) all sign the hard hat after SEC wins.” On his RBI hit: “I was mentally preparing myself in the dugout throughout the whole game. When I got up to bat, I was expecting fast ball. I was trying not to be late and stay short to it.”
Freshman catcher Cooper Johnson
On throwing out a Vandy runner at third after not getting him just prior at second: “I knew he was a good runner. I knew he would be going. That was his third time on base. I couldn’t handle it (the throw to second) and I was a little upset. I didn’t get him then. But he gets a pretty good jump, and I was still able to get him at third.” On if he’s seen a pitching staff have a streak like this at any level: “Not really, and it’s really fun to be a part of it and be catching while it’s all happening. Our pitching staff’s been so awesome. It’s incredibly impressive.” On Vandy pitcher Wright: “He’s a really good pitcher. He had a lively fast ball. He hit his spots and was around the zone. You knew he was coming after you. He throws a slider a lot and it’s really sharp. He’s a really good pitcher.”
Junior pitcher David Parkinson
On getting out of the bases loaded situation in the fourth inning: “Momentum shift, definitely. Big momentum shift for us.” On battling: “My leadoff batter (each inning) was a big problem today. What was working for me when I got a runner in scoring position was my slider. I worked with Cooper (Johnson) back there and got things done.” On Dallas Woolfolk: “We’ve seen Dallas do that all year. He’s a dude for us, so that was a big momentum shift for us there, too.” On being a part of the shutout streak: “Not that big of a deal for us, because we’re focused on the process. Just come out every single day to get better. That’s all we’re trying to do.”
Head Coach Mike Bianco
On Tim Rowe: “Proud of him. It’s neat, one of the neat things about coaching is to see guys like that come off the bench and get a big hit. And to watch the teammates react. Everybody’s so happy for him. Tim’s such a good guy, waits his turn, and gets the big hit.” On how hard it is to do what Woolfolk did when the Vandy player in the ninth kept fouling off pitches: “A great point, especially when all the pressure’s on you to keep the leadoff guy off the bases. And they were strikes. He was fouling them off and they were strikes. That shows you how much he’s matured as a picture. I don’t think he could have done that last year. He’s certainly our guy at the end now.”
OXFORD, Miss. – (Ole Miss SID) A clutch pinch hit by Tim Rowe along with another stellar performance on the mound lifted the No. 14 Ole Miss baseball team to a 1-0 victory over No. 15 Vanderbilt Friday night at Swayze Field. In the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams, the Rebels (13-5, 1-0 SEC) held the Commodores (12-7, 0-1 SEC) scoreless to earn their school-record fifth straight shutout.
With two outs and two runners on in the sixth, Rowe came off the bench to knock in the game’s only run as Ole Miss collected its third 1-0 victory of the season. The Rebels increased their winning streak to five games and have won six of the past seven. Senior Colby Bortles reached base all four times he stepped up to the plate, tallying two hits and walking twice as well as scoring the lone run.
For the seventh straight game, an Ole Miss starting pitcher took the mound and did not surrender a run. Junior southpaw David Parkinson (4-1) tossed 6.0 scoreless innings, allowing only three hits and working around four free passes. The back end of the bullpen completed another shutout as the dynamic duo of Will Stokes and Dallas Woolfolk (5) pitched the final three innings. Stokes threw a pair of scoreless frames before handing the ball to Woolfolk, who retired the side in the ninth for his SEC-leading fifth save of the season.
In the setback, the Commodores got a quality outing from right-handed starter Kyle Wright (0-3). The Vanderbilt ace gave up one run on six hits through 7.0 innings but suffered the loss. Ole Miss pitching held the visitors to three hits throughout the night.
Vanderbilt threatened first by starting the third with a pair of hits. Following a mound visit, a walk loaded the bases as Parkinson found himself in a jam with nobody out. Nonetheless, the Ole Miss ace fought back and battled through it. After batter’s interference was called for the first out, Parkinson forced a 6-4-3 double play to get out the inning unscathed. The quick turn kept the game scoreless.
One inning later, the Rebels loaded the bases themselves in a similar fashion. Ryan Olenek smacked the first pitch he saw into left field for a base hit before Tate Blackman found a hole in the left side of the infield for a hit. Following a walk by Bortles, Ole Miss ran into some bad luck on St. Patrick’s Day. With the bases juiced, Thomas Dillard had a base hit that would’ve scored at least one run and possibly two. However, the ball struck Bortles on his way to second, causing an out and the ball to be ruled dead. Wright used the break to get back-to-back outs as the contest remained 0-0 through four complete.
Ole Miss finally broke the tie with a two-out rally in the bottom of the sixth. Bortles, the team captain, singled to center field before Dillard drew a walk. With a runner in scoring position, Rowe pinch hit for Cole Zabowski and delivered in the clutch. The junior college transfer went opposite field with a base hit to left, scoring Bortles and giving Ole Miss the 1-0 lead.
The Rebels maintained the one-run advantage through the later innings thanks to the help of Stokes in relief. The Meridian, Mississippi, native took care of business in the seventh and eighth to set up Woolfolk for the final frame. Entering the game in the top of the ninth, Woolfolk fought through a 12-pitch at-bat against pinch hitter Stephen Scott. After fouling off six pitches and working the count full, Scott was caught looking as Woolfolk won the battle with a strikeout for the first out of the inning. The sophomore cruised from there, forcing a flyout before striking out the final hitter to secure the conference opener for the Rebels.
Game two of the top-15 matchup will begin tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. from Swayze Field. Redshirt-sophomore Brady Feigl will toe the rubber, matching up against Vanderbilt’s Patrick Raby. Prior to the game, the 1972 Ole Miss team that made the College World Series will be recognized in a special on-field ceremony. The SEC contest will air on SECN+ and the Ole Miss IMG Sports Network.