SIDEBAR: Rebels Grind Out Win Over Murray State

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Thomas Dillard turned to Nick Fortes in the dugout in the early innings of Tuesday's game against Murray State with the Rebels trailing 4-0 and had a message for the junior catcher.

"I told him we were going to win this game," Dillard recalled. "It's going to be late and we are going to have to really fight, but we have to win them all. Coach Bianco tells us we have to win games of all kinds."

Dillard certainly did his part, as did his teammates after the Racers put up a four-run first inning with the help of a Davis Sims three-run shot over the left field fence off Houston Roth. It was the first time this team had been in a hole all season, but it settled in. Roth put up three quick zeroes over the next three games as the Rebels felt out Murray State starter Luke Brown.

"He hung in there," head coach Mike Bianco said. "I think he retired 13 of the next 14 or something like that. He showed why he was a freshman All-American. That may have won the game right there."

A Cole Zabowski two-out RBI base knock in the fourth got Ole Miss on the board. An inning later, Dillard dug in with the bases loaded and one out. Chance Carner relived Brown. He took a change up over the plate and Dillard demolished it down the right field line for a bases clearing, three-RBI double that changed tied the game at four and seemingly put some life into the Rebel offense.

"He was throwing a little harder than the other guy," Dillard said. "I took the first pitch and then he threw me a change up and I was able to get my head out and hit it down the line."

Nick Fortes hustled around third base and ran through a stop sign, but beat the tag and capped a momentum-swinging play in the ball game.

"He was being held up and should've stopped," Bianco with a wry grin. "So I am just thankful he made it."

The Rebels plated four in the inning and took a 5-4 lead. Murray State answered with a run in the seventh to tied it a five and another in the eighth to take a 6-5 lead as rain began to fall. But Ole Miss continued to find ways to answer. Grae Kessinger drew a two-out walk in the eighth, stole second base and scored on a Ryan Olenek base hit. The Rebels have had a knack for making things happen with two outs through eight games.

"You need games like this," Dillard said. "It teaches you how to win. They aren't all going to be cake walks. You need to be challenged."

The team loaded the bases in the ninth with the game tied at six. Tyler Anderson threw a wild one to the backstop and Dillard - who was standing on third after starting the inning with a leadoff base hit - raced home and beat the tag on a close, game-deciding play at the plate.

"I knew I was safe," Dillard said. "It was a close play and Coach Clement was telling me to be ready for anything and I was able to get in there."

Dillard sparked Ole Miss each time it needed on on the night. He was 3-4 with 3 RBIs

"The whole game it seemed like everything started and finished offensively with Thomas," Bianco said. "Stealing bases, scoring at the end, three hits. He did it all tonight."

It was admittedly not Ole Miss' cleanest game as Bianco said, but the team found a way to win a wild midweek game to get out to its best start since 2008 at 8-0. It will hit the road this weekend for its toughest test yet at Long Beach State.

"It was just one of those game, a crazy games you see in the midweek," Bianco said. "I am just proud of our guys for hanging in there."

First pitch on Friday in Long Beach is at 8 p.m.

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    Tiffany J. Moore said:

    This is amazing with what he have done so far! Hope that he'll achieve more in the future!

    in post Evan Engram Hauls in Midseason Accolades

    Fiftyyears fan said:

    How can you have five straight top 25 recruiting classes and look as bad as Ole Miss has this year. Easy lack of coaching fundamentals. Look at Mason at Vandy, nothing but 2 and 3 star recruits out of high school and he developers players that want to win. Hugh freeze has 3, 4 & 5 recruits and he expects them to win because of what they were in High School. Mr. Freeze you have not been teaching the fundamentals of football or winning in life. Mr. Freeze you have quit on your players because you have some false expectations of what they are instead of what you can develop in them. Either do your job or quit. Oh yea, please quit running your smoke and mirrors offense, everyone has figured it out. Run a physical offense that can open up holes for your running backs and then your pass attack want require 12 are 14 four and five star receivers. Mr. Freeze you have problems and you need to know that you are not smarter than the rest of the coaches in the SEC.

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    Karen Holden said:

    Not every pass can be caught. Too low, too short whatever. Not every Kelly pass is perfect. Records were broken by receivers also. But they sre not going to catch every ball thrown. The loss to Auburn was not one players fault. You win or lose as a team.

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    Trent browning said:

    Hey I was just wandering if these are the only 2 olemiss players signing. If there are more signing please respond to me ASAP. Also wondering if neil everett will sign any autographs. Thank you very much

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