True freshman Greer Holston, solid all season in his first collegiate campaign, uncharacteristically struggled, but that was about the worst of it for Ole Miss. The Rebels rolled past Louisiana-Monroe 21-7 Tuesday night.
Holston, the talented, 6-foot-4, 210-pound right-hander from Long Beach (Saint Stanislaus College/IMG), allowed seven runs on nine hits in three and a third innings. And through the top of the fourth Ole Miss trailed 7-3. But from then on the Rebel offense unleashed an attack not seen this season with 18 runs the rest of the way.
The game was called after the top of the seventh inning, and the teams will play a second game at 3 p.m.Wednesday.
Houston Roth, another true freshman, relieved Holston and went 2.2 innings, allowing no damage. Then Roth turned it over to veteran Andy Pagnozzi who pitched the seventh and that was that.
Nick Fortes was the star offensively with two home runs in the same inning – a two-run and a three-run in the sixth. The catcher turned first baseman was 3-for-5 with six RBI and four runs scored, including his third and fourth home runs of the season.
Tate Blackman was 3-for-4, while Ryan Olenek, Thomas Dillard, Tim Rowe and Cooper Johnson all had two hits apiece.
ULM used six pitchers but they were no match for the Rebel offense. The Warhawks also had three errors.
Early in the game, in the bottom of the third, ULM left fielder Johnny DeLaCruz was chasing a Blackman ball to the wall but crashed into it forcefully. The hit ended up as a triple for Blackman, but DeLaCruz lay on the ground for several minutes, attended to by medical personnel. He was later taken off the field by ambulance, and the only report so far was that he appeared to be moving his body and extremities.
Roth (3-0) was the game-winning pitcher, while the second ULM pitcher, Chase Cater (1-2), picked up the loss.
The Rebels improved to 28-17, and Louisiana-Monroe fell to 12-33.
Ole Miss first baseman Nick Fortes
On the Rebels’ offense: “It was a lot of fun. With our team struggling a little bit (earlier this season), it feels good to put 21 up. It boosts our confidence and helps us get going. Sometimes you need games like this to get you going.” On ULM’s early success: “They swung it really well. They came out ready to play, but we didn’t let it get to us. We knew we were still in the game, because we have been swinging the bat better lately.”
Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco
On the victory: “Obviously we’re happy, but you look up there (early) and they score two, we score two, they score one, we score one, then they score four. We were happy with the offense being productive and efficient. Then after that, we score 18. So I’m proud the offense was relentless tonight. We answered in a big way.” On Greer Holston’s performance: “When we look back at the tape, I’m sure we’re going to see a lot of missed pitches over the middle of the plate, see balls up in the zone. Several pitches that got hit hard were up. Sometimes baseball just gets you, from a team that’s struggled this year that’s got 12 wins. That happens in baseball.” On the UM offense being so productive: “We haven’t done this much. There haven’t been a lot of (runs scored). I think we’ve outhit our opponents eight out of the last nine games. So we’re swinging it a lot better, and this was a good night for us.”