OXFORD, Miss. - Four freshmen dazzled on the mound, and 16 hits at the plate led the No. 24 Ole Miss baseball team to a 16-4 thumping of Arkansas State Tuesday night at Swayze Field. With the win, the Rebels (4-0) remained unbeaten in 2017 and were victorious in their first midweek game of the year.
The young quartet of Will Ethridge (1-0), Houston Roth, Ryan Rolison and Greer Holston combined for 19 strikeouts, the most by an Ole Miss pitching staff since a 16-inning game in 2015 and only two off the school record.
Making his debut, Ethridge mowed down the Red Wolves (4-1). He recorded 10 strikeouts, the most by an Ole Miss freshman since 2007 and the most in an Ole Miss debut this century. Roth, another freshman making his first appearance as a Rebel, struck out five over 2.0 scoreless innings of work. Rolison and Holston closed out the contest with one inning apiece, keeping ASU off the scoreboard.
At the plate, junior Will Golsan led the way with a 4-for-5 performance that included four runs, three doubles and two RBI. Freshman Thomas Dillard recorded a career-high three hits, while Nick Fortes and Kyle Watson posted multi-hit games as well. Nine Rebels recorded hits throughout the night, including the first in the career of freshman Bryan Seamster.
Bo Ritter (0-1) was saddled with the loss for ASU, giving up seven runs in 2.2 innings. Catcher Justin Felix had two of the team's five hits, and Casey Vaughan added a solo home run.
After Ethridge retired the first six hitters of the game, which included four straight strikeouts, the Rebels sent 10 hitters to the plate in the second. Dillard led off the inning with a single before advancing into scoring on a Cole Zabowski four-pitch walk. Fortes brought Dillard around to score on chopper over the third baseman's head for the first run of the game. Two walks and a hit batsman allowed two more runs to cross the plate. Chase Cockrell ended the big inning with a two-RBI single, giving Ole Miss a 5-0 lead.
The Red Wolves responded in the third, taking advantage of a Rebel miscue that kept the inning alive. A double by first baseman Joe Schrimpf cut the lead to three. However, Ole Miss countered with three runs in the bottom half to double the margin to six, 8-2. The home team wasn't finished building its lead, tallying three more runs in the fourth to eclipse double digits for the first time this season.
Cruising through the first four innings, Ethridge faced some adversity in the fifth when Vaughan led off the inning with a solo homer to left. A walk and a pair of wild pitches allowed another run to cross the plate, but the freshman calmed down to force a double play, get out of the inning and finish his debut night on a high note.
Coming out of the Ole Miss bullpen for the first time in his career, Roth continued what Ethridge started. The Oxford native allowed only two hits, while earning five of his six outs via the strikeout. His relief appearance kept the Rebels ahead comfortably before the lead grew once again. In the seventh, Golsan doubled for the third time in the game and later scored on a groundout. Sophomore outfielder DJ Miller added a pinch-hit RBI double to make it 13-4.
With three more hits in addition to an ASU error, Ole Miss plated three more runs in the eighth. Holston finished the job with a scoreless ninth, closing out the dominating performance.
The homestand continues with a tough non-conference weekend series as the Rebels battle UNCW, an NCAA Regional qualifier and defending champion of the Colonial Athletic Association (Feb. 24-26). The action begins Friday at 4 p.m., and all three game will be broadcast on SECN+.
• Ole Miss defeated Arkansas State for the ninth straight time at Swayze Field.
• The Rebels pitched four 'true' freshman who combined for 19 strikeouts; the 19 strikeouts are the most by an Ole Miss pitching staff since April 10, 2015 (6-5 win in a 16-inning game at No. 1 Vanderbilt) and the most in a nine-inning game since Feb. 22, 2008 (school record 21 vs. Minnesota).
• Freshmen pitchers Will Ethridge and Houston Roth made their Ole Miss debuts.
• Ethridge recorded 10 strikeouts, the most by an Ole Miss freshman since Justin Cryer (April 22, 2007); his strikeouts were also the most by a Rebel in a debut this century.
• Junior Will Golsan went 4-for-5 with four runs and two RBI; his hits and runs scored were career highs.
• Freshman Thomas Dillard tallied three hits for a new career high.
• Sophomore catcher Nick Fortes put together a multi-hit game with a career-high two RBI.
• Sophomore DJ Miller made his 2017 debut, smacking a pinch-hit RBI double in the seventh.
• Freshman Bryan Seamster singled in his first at-bat as a Rebel with a pinch-hit single in the eighth.
• Head coach Mike Bianco earned his 634th victory at Ole Miss, tying him with longtime Auburn coach Hal Baird for seventh on the SEC's all-time wins list.