OXFORD, Miss. - For the second straight weekend, the No. 24 Ole Miss baseball team swept a ranked opponent at Swayze Field. The Rebels (7-0) remained undefeated on the 2017 campaign with an 8-6 victory over UNCW Sunday afternoon.
Ole Miss scored three runs in the third to jump out to an early advantage. The lead grew to as much as seven before the Seahawks (3-3) attempted a late-inning comeback. However, the Rebels held on to move to 7-0 for the first time since 2013.
Seven different Rebels recorded base hits, including designated hitter Tim Rowe. The junior college transfer went 2-for-4 in his first start at Ole Miss, earning his first RBI as well. Speaking of RBI, senior Colby Bortles post a team-high three to go along with his second home run of the season. Reigning SEC Player of the Week Ryan Olenek added two runs and two RBI to help the Rebels sweep the series.
Ole Miss starter Brady Feigl (1-0) earned his first victory of the year, allowing just one run on three hits and two walks. The redshirt-sophomore did not allow a hit until the fifth inning and tied his career high with six strikeouts. Sophomore Andy Pagnozzi pitched 2.0 scoreless innings of relief, and Dallas Woolfolk (3) collected his second save of the weekend.
UNCW was limited to six hits as Robbie Thorburn and Josh Hernandez picked up two apiece. Starter Logan Beehler (0-1) was saddled with the loss after allowing six runs on five hits and three walks through 4.2 innings.
As was the trend all weekend long, an Ole Miss starting pitcher got off to a hot start. Feigl struck out five of the first nine batters he faced through the first three innings. In the bottom of the third, the Rebels sent eight hitters to the plate to put together another big inning. Cooper Johnson recorded the first hit of the game with a single, and after a Grae Kessinger walk, Tate Blackman played small ball with a sacrifice bunt to put the two Rebels in scoring position. The plan worked as Olenek singled to center field, plating the first two runs of the game. Ole Miss wasn't finished as Cole Zabawski tallied a RBI base knock before Bortles left the ballpark with a two-run bomb to left. Another monster inning had the Rebels out in front, 5-0.
Feigl continued to keep the Seahawks hitless before Terence Connelly found the gap in right-center field for a one-out triple in the top of the fifth. The UNCW third baseman scored two batters later on a base hit up the middle by the catcher Hernandez. The pair of hits cut the Ole Miss lead to four, but the margin didn't stay there for long. Blackman started the bottom of the frame with an infield single. A steal, groundout and wild pitch brought the junior second baseman around to score and gave the Rebels the run back to keep it a five-run ballgame.
The first two hitters for UNCW reached base in the sixth, forcing Feigl out of the contest. However, Pagnozzi came on in relief and got out of the jam thanks to the help of two web gems by the left side of the Ole Miss infield. First, Grae Kessinger climbed the ladder to rob a liner that would have scored a run. Then, with two outs, Bortles went into the stands to snag a foul ball and end the inning without the Seahawks crossing the plate.
The Rebels scored twice in the seventh, which ended up being two legitimate insurance runs that they needed at the end of the contest. The first three hitters reached base to begin the frame, with Golsan's single to center field increasing the lead to six. Bortles added his third RBI of the game on a deep sac fly that made it 8-1 in favor of the home team.
Despite the seven-run deficit, UNCW continued to fight, tallying one run in the eighth before putting together a scary ninth inning for Ole Miss. Another run crossed the plate, and the Seahawks loaded the bases with nobody out, forcing head coach Mike Bianco to bring in the hard-throwing Woolfolk. A base hit and RBI groundout doubles UNCW's score to six and brought the tying run to the plate. However, Johnson made a diving catch on a foul ball to end the game and stop the comeback.
The Rebels will close out their eight-game homestand by hosting Memphis on Tuesday (Feb. 28) at Swayze Field. First pitch is slated for 4 p.m. Following the midweek contest, Ole Miss will hit the road for the first time this season to participate in the Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic (March 3-5). Competing in one of the most prestigious regular season tournaments in the country, the Rebels will face three Big 12 teams in Baylor (March 3), Texas Tech (March 4) and TCU (March 5) at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas.
Ole Miss improves to 7-0 for the first time since 2013 and eighth in program history (four under head coach Mike Bianco).
Six of the Rebels' seven wins have been against ranked teams.
The Rebels are 6-0 against UNCW all time.
On the weekend, Ole Miss starting pitchers combined for 15 strikeouts the first time through the UNCW lineup; Feigl recorded five strikeouts today.
The Rebels scored at least four runs in an inning for the fifth straight game (five runs in the third).
In his first career start at Ole Miss, designated hitter Tim Rowe tallied a team-high two hits and added his first career RBI.