NEW ORLEANS - Two clutch home runs by Cole Zabowski and Grae Kessinger set the stage, and another vintage crunch-time performance by Parker Caracci gave Ole Miss a 6-4 win at Tulane.
Ole Miss fell behind 4-2 in the fifth inning but quickly came back to improve to 3-1 on the young season. Zabowski's homer tied it at four in the sixth, and one inning later, Kessinger hit one off the scoreboard, which proved to be the game-winner. Caracci came on for the final five outs and escaped a pair of two-on, one-out jams to earn a save in his first appearance of 2019.
Ole Miss went to work early after a four-pitch walk by Anthony Servideo in the first inning. The sophomore, making his first start in right field, eventually came around on an RBI base knock to right by Ryan Olenek to make it 1-0, Rebels.
Starter Zack Phillips came through with a one-two-three inning in the bottom half, and the Rebels added another in the second. Chase Cockrell started the second frame with a double to right. The junior out of Bastrop, Louisiana, scored when Cooper Johnson was caught in a rundown between first and second.
Tulane threatened in the bottom half, placing two runners on with just one out, but Phillips worked his way out of it with back-to-back strikeouts, keeping the Green Wave off the board.
The Tulane bats awoke in the third. Sal Gozzo opened it up with a leadoff double off the bag down the third base line. The Green Wave then strung together a single, another double down the left field line and a sacrifice fly to knot the game at two.
After a scoreless stretch, the Green Wave seized the lead in the fifth. A single, a hit batter and a walk loaded the bases and brought Austin Miller out of the bullpen. Next, a sacrifice fly and a single to center made it a 4-2 lead for Tulane.
The lead didn't last long, though. Olenek started the two-out rally when he was hit by a pitch for the second time in the game, and just one pitch later, Cole Zabowski smoked a ball straight over the 400-foot sign in left center field at Turchin Stadium to tie the game back at four.
After a solid scoreless sixth inning by Miller, the Rebel bats erupted again. With two outs, Grae Kessinger smashed one off the scoreboard in left field to give Ole Miss a 5-4 lead. Then Tim Elko and Tyler Keenan found their way aboard when they were hit by back-to-back pitches. Thomas Dillard made the Green Wave pay with a single to right to stretch the lead to two.
Doug Nikhazy relieved Miller in the bottom of the seventh and went right to work, striking out two Green Wave hitters and retiring a third on a pop fly for a clean inning, allowing just one baserunner along the way.
Parker Caracci relieved Nikhazy with one out and one on in the eighth. The All-American closer yielded one base hit, but Johnson erased the baserunner quickly with a snap throw to first base for out No. 2. Caracci then popped up Tulane's best hitter, Kody Hoese, to escape the inning.
Caracci walked the first batter in the ninth before coming back with a strikeout. A single to center field followed to make it another two-on, one-out situation for the Jackson Prep product. The situation didn't phase Caracci, though, as he fanned the following batter on three pitches. The final out came on a groundout to Zabowski, capping the 6-4 win.
Saturday Schedule Change
Due to Saturday's weather forecast, Game 2 against Tulane has been moved from 2 p.m. CT to a 1 p.m. CT first pitch.
- Ole Miss improved to 3-1 on the season and 88-38 all-time against Tulane.
- Ole Miss scored five of its six runs with two outs.
- Cole Zabowski and Grae Kessinger both hit their first home runs of the season.
- Six different Rebels have gone deep in four games. - Ole Miss has hit two home runs in all four games this year.
- Anthony Servideo made his first career start in the outfield.
- Ryan Olenek was hit by a pitch twice tonight. He's been hit four times in four games this season and 27 times over his Ole Miss career.
- Austin Miller earned his first career win.
- Parker Caracci made his 2019 debut and earned his first save of the season, 11th in his career. He's now just one save shy of moving into the top 10 of the Rebel record books for his career.