OXFORD, Miss. - The Rebels exploded early and often at the plate, and used an extensive offensive arsenal to put up 12 runs on the UT Martin Skyhawks for a 12-6 Tuesday night victory.
The Skyhawks weren't nixing the offensive firepower either, and Ole Miss, needing to put up big numbers on offense to match their opponent, scored nine runs through three innings to make for a high-powered midweek game.
Ole Miss came into today averaging two home runs per contest, which ranked fifth nationally, and improved on the trend with three long balls on the day, with one each from Thomas Dillard, Tyler Keenan, and Cole Zabowski. All the Rebels got into the action at the plate, however, with each member of the starting nine recording at least a hit or an RBI on the day.
Sophomore Jordan Fowler earned the start today, but after allowing five runs through 1.2 innings, just two of them earned, he was relieved for senior Connor Green. Green has been on a tear through his three appearances this year, and picked up his second career win after throwing 2.1 scoreless innings.
Through 42 appearances spread out over four years, Green had not earned a win, but has now picked up victories in two consecutive games. He is still yet to allow a run to cross the plate this year.
Senior Ryan Olenek also turned heads today, and not just at the plate. Although he did do considerable damage on offense, going 3-for-4 with a pair of runs and an RBI, it was his pitching performance that brought some excitement to Swayze Field. Olenek entered at the beginning of the ninth inning for his second career appearance and his first on the year. He faced just three batters, mowing them all down, and twirled his way to a pair of strikeouts, including the game winner on a breaking ball that froze the Skyhawk batter.
Olenek has upped his batting average to .481 on the year, surpassing Dillard for highest on the team, while ensuring that his ERA remains at 0.00. The Rebel veteran is expected to see some more pitching time this season, especially after his dominant performance Tuesday night.
Sophomore Carl Gindl also had a night to remember, both at the plate and on the base path. He set a career high with four RBI, scoring two on a single in the third, before sending two more home on a sacrifice fly and a groundout. He is revered for his speed, and caught the Skyhawk defense sleeping when he made it all the way home from second base on a routine sacrifice fly from the bat of Grae Kessinger.
Junior Taylor Broadway had his longest outing to date, going 2.0 innings in relief of Kaleb Hill in the sixth and seventh frames. Broadway had a career high three strikeouts on the night, after striking out the side in the sixth inning.
The Rebels knew they were in for a long outing after the top of the first saw four opposing runs, two of them earned, on a Skyhawk home run and RBI double. Ole Miss immediately answered, however, with four of their own in the bottom half of the first, with two-run homers by each Keenan and Zabowski.
UT Martin found one more run in the second inning, but the Rebels just about put the game out of reach with a five-run third inning.
Dillard set the tone early with a leadoff home run, but the Rebels weren't done yet in the frame. Following an Olenek double, Cole Zabowski sent him home on a single through the right side for his third RBI of the day. Chase Cockrell had the Rebels' fourth hit of the inning before the Skyhawks could even record an out, and Gindl made them pay by sending both Zabowski and Cockrell home on a bloop single to center field. The Rebel left fielder would go on to score the final run of the inning with his two-base tag play, and Ole Miss took a 9-5 lead to the fourth.
The Rebels would go on to score one run in each the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings, but it turned out to be merely insurance for the relief pitching that held strong through the last stretch.
The combined efforts of Green, Hill, Broadway, Max Cioffi, and Olenek held the Skyhawks to just one run over the final seven innings, and the high-powered Rebel offense showed out to produce double-digit runs in tonight's 12-6 victory.
Ole Miss will be back in action this weekend for a home series against Long Beach State, with Friday's first pitch set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday's game against UT Martin was the first of a nine-game home stand, so Rebel fans will have plenty of opportunities to catch the team at Swayze Field in the coming days.