OXFORD, Miss. - The No. 20 Ole Miss baseball team completed a perfect weekend on the mound by shutting out Furman 1-0 Sunday afternoon at Swayze Field. Michael Fitzsimmons delivered a pinch-hit single in the eighth for the game's only run, and the Rebels (11-5) held the Paladins (8-7) scoreless for the entire weekend to earn their third three-game sweep of the 2017 season.
Ole Miss completed a five-game homestand with four shutout victories. Keeping Furman without a run, the Rebels posted a three-game series shutout for the first time since March 12-14, 2004 (vs. Nicholls).
Making just the second start of his career, freshman Greer Holston tossed 7.0 scoreless innings and struck out six; both marks were personal bests for the young Rebel. Holston limited the Paladins to only two hits, while walking a pair as well. Sophomore Andy Pagnozzi (2-0) earned the win in relief, striking out all three hitters he faced in a perfect eighth inning. Fellow classmate Dallas Woolfolk (4) finished the deal to add to his save total.
Along with Fitzsimmons' game-winning single off the bench, eight Rebels in the starting lineup recorded a hit. Ole Miss was able to get a runner on base in seven of its eight innings at the plate, but five double plays helped Furman stay in the game throughout its entirety.
Furman starting pitcher Matthew Quarles allowed seven hits over 7.0 innings of work, but he forced five groundball twin-killings to get out of jam after jam. The Paladins were held to three hits, all coming from the top three hitters in their lineup.
After issuing a pair of two-out walks in the first, Holston got out of the inning and was masterful from there. He followed with four consecutive 1-2-3 innings and only allowed two infield singles throughout his first weekend start. The freshman looked comfortable on his way to a scoreless outing, but Quarles matched him with zeroes as well. Through the first seven innings of play, the game was tied 0-0.
Pagnozzi came out of the bullpen to start the eighth, ending Holston's impressive outing of scoreless baseball. The sophomore continued what his teammate started, striking out the side and keeping Furman off the board.
The Rebels broke the scoring drought in the bottom half of the inning. Kyle Watson singled to right field before advancing to second on a well-placed sacrifice bunt by catcher Cooper Johnson. With one out and the go-ahead run in scoring position, head coach Mike Bianco elected to send Tim Rowe to the plate as a pinch-hitter. The move caused Furman to bring in southpaw Billy Greenfield for the lefty-lefty matchup. However, the cat-and-mouse game continued as Bianco countered by sending Fitzsimmons to the dish to replace Rowe. The veteran coach knew what he was doing as the decision paid off. With Watson breaking for third on a hit-and-run, Fitzsimmons smacked a base hit into left. Rounding third, the speedy Watson scored easily to give Ole Miss the run it was looking for all afternoon.
The Paladins didn't give up in their last at-bats. A walk and a single off Woolfolk put the tying run and go-ahead run on base with one out. After a groundout to Watson at shortstop, Furman had two runners in scoring position with two outs. Facing the pressure, Woolkfolk delivered a groundball to second baseman Tate Blackman, who made the easy flip to first for the game's final out. The play wrapped up a weekend in which Ole Miss pitching went 27.0 innings without allowing a single run.
Ole Miss will hit the road to begin next week, traveling south to MGM Park in Biloxi, Mississippi for a neutral site matchup with Nicholls (March 14). First pitch from the home of the Biloxi Shuckers is scheduled for 7 p.m. The game will not be televised, but you can listen live on the Ole Miss IMG Sports Network.
Ole Miss did not allow a run in an entire three-game series for the first time since March 12-14, 2004 (vs. Nicholls). The Rebels earned their third three-game sweep of the season. In his second career start (first on a weekend), freshman Greer Holston pitched a career-high 7.0 scoreless innings, allowing only two hits and two walks to go along with a career-high six strikeouts. Sophomore Andy Pagnozzi picked up his 11th career victory, including his 10th in relief; Pagnozzi struck out the side in the eighth. The Rebels held a team hitting .317 heading into the weekend to only 10 hits, all singles, throughout the series; Ole Miss pitching also added 30 strikeouts and only walked five in the three games. Ole Miss recorded its fourth shutout of the week, including its second 1-0 victory. The Rebels have won their last five 1-0 games, dating back to 2012.