OXFORD, Miss. -- The No. 18 Ole Miss Baseball team wrapped up its seven-game homestand to open the 2015 season with a 2-1 victory over the Arkansas State Red Wolves Tuesday afternoon at Swayze Field. With the win, the Rebels improved to 5-2 on the season, while Arkansas State, a team that won a series versus nationally-ranked Louisville over the weekend, dropped to 4-3.
Two seniors provided the production at the plate for the Rebels as a Sikes Orvis home run and a RBI single by Austin Knight brought in the only two runs Ole Miss needed to defeat the Red Wolves. Orvis recorded his second homer of the season, the 20th of his career, in the bottom of the first before Knight's single through the left side in the third ended up bringing in the winning run. The two upperclassmen provided four of the Rebels' five hits with two base-knocks apiece. Orvis crossed home plate twice to account for both Ole Miss runs in the contest.
Rebel pitching was outstanding all day long, surrendering just four hits and striking out a combined seven batters. Sophomore left-hander Evan Anderson (1-0) picked up the victory on the mound. After a pair of walks and hit batter in the first that led to ASU's only run of the ballgame, Anderson was nearly unhittable. He lasted five innings, allowing just one run on one hit and two walks while also adding four strikeouts to his stat line.
Ole Miss Head Coach Mike Bianco was pleased with the way his starting pitcher bounced back after the first inning. "This might be a big moment for him because a lot of guys would have asked to come out of the game - but bases loaded, he gets out of it and nearly throws a no-hitter for the rest of the game," noted Bianco.
Junior Jacob Waguespack added three innings of relief on the mound and gave up just two hits. Coming in to close out the ballgame, freshman Will Stokes sent the Red Wolves down in order to earn the first save of his Ole Miss career.
"We needed to get him ready," Bianco mentioned regarding the freshman Stokes. "He needs to be a guy that we are going to count on in the bullpen."
The Red Wolves took the lead with a run in the top of the first, but it did not last long as Orvis belted a solo home run to tie the game at one run apiece. With two outs in the inning, the senior first baseman's blast left the yard in right field for his second homer of the season.
Orvis started the Ole Miss offense once again in the fourth, leading off the inning with a single. He advanced to second on a single by freshman Kyle Watson before crossing the plate on Knight's two-out base hit.
With a one-run advantage, the Rebel arms made sure the lead was safe as Arkansas State had just one runner reach second base through the final seven innings of the game. Entering the game in the ninth, Stokes made quick work of the Red Wolves to nail down the save and the victory for Ole Miss.
The Rebels were expected to be in action tomorrow at home, but due to inclement weather in the forecast, Wednesday's game against Central Arkansas has been postponed. The game has been moved to next Tuesday, April 21, starting at 6:30 p.m. CT. Tickets originally intended for the game will be granted for the makeup date. The contest will also still be broadcast live on SEC Network+ and can be heard on the Ole Miss Sports Radio Network.
Up next, the Rebels will get a taste of life on the road for the first time as they travel to Orlando, Fla. for a weekend series against the University of Central Florida. The road trip will be an early test for Ole Miss, facing a nationally-ranked UCF team that is 7-0 this season. The series will begin Friday night, Feb. 27, under the lights of Jay Bergman Field. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. ET.