OXFORD, Miss. - A clutch pinch hit by Tim Rowe along with another stellar performance on the mound lifted the No. 19 Ole Miss baseball team to a 1-0 victory over No. 23 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.