OXFORD, Miss. -- In the rubber match of a Southeastern Conference series, the Ole Miss baseball team scored nine runs in the first four innings on its way to a 9-6 win over Missouri Sunday afternoon at Swayze Field. The Rebels (25-15, 9-9 SEC) used a three-run first and a five-run fourth to jump out to a 9-1 lead before holding off the Tigers (27-14, 8-10) late.
The middle of the order did most the damage for Ole Miss. Nick Fortes smacked two doubles to record a career-high three RBI, while Colby Bortles smocked a three-run homer for his team-leading sixth of the season. Will Golsan and Ryan Olenek produced multi-hit games as well. Golsan joined Tim Rowe in scoring two runs apiece.
Freshman Houston Roth (2-0) tossed a career-high 3.0 innings of relief to earn his second victory of the season. Fellow freshman Will Ethridge (1) finished the game, retiring all four hitters he faced to earn his first career save.
Missouri tallied 12 hits on the afternoon, including a 3-for-3 performance by shortstop Chris Cornelius. Starter Bryce Montes De Oca (3-3) lasted just 2.1 innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on four hits and five walks. Ole Miss also got to Michael Plassmeyer, pegging him for five runs on five hits in 1.0 inning of work.
For the fourth consecutive game, the Rebels struck first by scoring in the first inning. Tate Blackman and Golsan used patience at the plate to draw walks. Back-to-back flyouts to center field allowed Blackman to advance to third and then home for the first run of the contest. With two outs, Fortes doubled to the right-center gap to plate Golsan before a wild pitch scored Rowe. When the dust settled, Ole Miss held a 3-0 lead after one inning of play.
In the second, Missouri looked to cut into the deficit, but a heads-up play in the outfield prevented that from happening. With two runners on and two outs, Cornelius singled to center field. The base hit was going to score the Tiger from second easily, but Olenek threw out the runner at third before he crossed the plate. The perfect throw and smart play ended the inning with Missouri still looking for its first run. In the bottom half, an infield single by Golsan brought Cooper Johnson in from third to make it a 4-0 ballgame.
After two doubles put the Tigers on the board in the fourth, Ole Miss answered by batting around in the frame. Grae Kessinger started the big inning off with a single up the middle, and Golsan followed with his second hit of the game. With two runners on, Bortles belted a bomb to left field for a three-run homer. Consecutive singles by Olenek and Rowe set the stage for Fortes, who delivered his second double on the day. The pair of Rebels on base crossed the dish and capped a five-run inning that increased the cushion to eight.
Missouri countered with three runs in the fifth. Four hits ended David Parkinson's day, but Roth entered the game to get the Rebels out of the inning. In the sixth, the first two hitters reached for the Tigers. However, Roth worked out of his own jam with three straight outs to end the inning. The freshman went on to retire seven consecutive hitters in all on his way to a victory.
In the eighth, the Tigers took advantage of two Ole Miss errors to score a pair of runs. Head coach Mike Bianco went back to his bullpen, bringing in Ethridge. The tall righty got the out needed to end the inning before sending Missouri down in order in the ninth to solidify another Ole Miss win.
With the four-game homestand in the books, the Rebels will hit the road once again. First, Ole Miss will battle Mississippi State in the annual Governor's Cup. The rivalry matchup will take place at Trustmark Park in Pearl, Mississippi (April 25). First pitch is slated for 6:30 p.m. on SEC Network. Following the midweek contest, the Rebels head to Arkansas to face the Razorbacks (April 27-29). The first two games of the three-game set will be nationally televised on SEC Network beginning with the Thursday night series opener at 6 p.m.