This one was a stark contrast to the 28 run, seven inning offensive barrage on Tuesday. Neither team scored a run until the sixth inning. Johnson earned the win thanks to a four-run sixth inning that began with a Colby Bortles two-run home run, and was followed by a Cole Zabowski base hit and a Bryan Seamster sacrifice fly.
Johnson took his no-hit bid into the seventh inning, but gave up a leadoff base hit and was replaced by Brady Feigl. Johnson was effective and efficient for all six innings was in. He served the Warhawks a steady diet of fastballs and sliders, and did well to keep the baseball down in the zone.
"Slider, slider, slider," Johnson said. "I had my fastball for the first few innings, and then my arm started to get a little tired, but my slider is a pitch I can throw in any count and just get it in there for a strike. I was throwing a lot of sliders today."
Johnson is a guy that has dealt with his fair share of adversity in his two years at Ole Miss since transferring in. He overcame Tommy John surgery two years ago, and returned as the team's Sunday starter for a brief period, but his arm has never been quite the same.
"It felt very good. I don't really see myself as much of a starter anymore with just the way my arm comes back after so many pitches in one outing," Johnson said. "But it just felt good to be out there to be honest."
Johnson is a team favorite, and a senior leader in other avenues than the field. He works with the young pitchers and his competitive edge has never wavered. He surrendered just the lone hit in his final batter in the game, and struck out six on 83 pitches.
"That's certainly the longest outing of the year for him. Once he gets through the third inning, it is a little different game from him," head coach Mike Bianco said. "Once we got to about the fifth and the sixth you say 'woah, he is nine outs away. Can you spin enough in there to get through it'. I am proud of him. He's been through a lot. He's a great competitor and a great teammate. It showed today. He deserved that today."
Johnson's successors were not as sharp. Feigl gave up a two-run home run that charged both he and Johnson with a run in the seventh because Johnson was responsible for the lone hit that ousted him from the game. Nick Fortes homered in the seventh to make it 5-2, but the Warhawks got it right back in the eighth with a run off of Will Ethridge and turned it into a 5-3 game. It forced Ole Miss to throw Dallas Woolfolk in the ninth to close it out, which is not ideal but was certainly necessary.
The Rebels scored 26 runs in two days, and recorded 11 hits in this game. Will Golsan, Fortes and Zabowsk had two hits. A five-game week prompted Bianco to rest Cooper Johnson in this game, slotting Fortes behind the plate and giving Zabowski an opportunity at first base.
The Rebels return to action on Friday night in Gainesville, beginning a three game set against Florida.
-Ryan Olenek and Grae Kessinger collided on a fly ball in the second inning and needed attention from the training staff after. Kessinger walked away fine, and Olenek stayed in the game originally but was later replaced by Kyle Watson. Bianco said afterward that the medical staff fears Ryan Olenek has a concussion, but not much else was known at that moment.