OXFORD, Miss. -- The No. 9 Ole Miss baseball team took down Austin Peay behind a pair of massive home runs from sophomore Thomas Dillard as well as an six-run eighth inning to finalize the 11-4 victory. The win ensures Coach Mike Bianco's undefeated record against the Governors stayed intact, pushing his all-time record vs. Austin Peay to 11-0.
Sophomore Houston Roth earned his third consecutive Tuesday start, going 4.2 mostly seamless innings with six strikeouts before the Governors jumped on him in the fifth. It was senior Will Stokes, however, who earned the win, his first on the year, after working 2.1 innings in relief with a pair of strikeouts and only one hit allowed.
The highlight of the night, however, was the Rebel offense, which combined for 13 hits, seven of them good for extra bases, as well as three long balls, two of which came from the bat of Dillard.
Dillard began the scoring fest with a solo shot in the second, his second on the year, before freshman Tyler Keenan knocked in a run with a double off the wall that Swayze Field could barely contain.
Dillard struck again just an inning later after Olenek and Fortes opened the third by reaching base. With two on and one out, Dillard delivered one of his best swings to date, sending a ball into the student section in right field that plated three and put the Rebels on top by a score of 5-1 after three complete.
Austin Peay was the next to strike, coming after Roth with hit after hit in the fifth inning. At one point, the Governors combined for five consecutive two-out hits, good enough for three runs, before Bianco made a call to the bullpen and relied upon Stokes to close the frame. The senior did just that, recording a strikeout when it was most needed, and ending the inning with two runners stranded.
With the Rebel lead diminished to just one, Stokes ensured that it remained that way, while the bats took to the plate seeking desperate insurance runs.
The insurance came in the eighth inning, where six different Rebels crossed the plate. The inning led off with senior Will Golsan's inaugural birthday hit, a single through the left side. Following Golsan, Cole
Zabowski knocked the captain home with a deep single to center, and Chase Cockrell got in on the action with a double down the left field line, part of a 3-for-3 day for the junior.
Still with nobody out in the inning, the real fun came when Keenan stepped to the plate. Keenan, the fourth Rebel batter to hit without an out in the inning, busted it open with a three-run home run to right, the first of his young career and the third of the game, pushing the score to 9-4 in favor of the Rebels.
The Rebels scored two more in the eighth, one from the bat of Michael Spears, who recorded his second career hit as well as RBI with a single to right, before Golsan, making his second appearance at the plate in the same inning, knocked another run in with his second hit of the inning, a double in the gap.
Will Ethridge finalized the win with his first save of the year, throwing two perfect innings to improve the Rebels to 11-1 on the year as they get ready to face Little Rock in Wednesday's matchup, set for a 6:30 p.m. CT first pitch with freshman Jordan Fowler making his first start in a Rebel jersey.