No. 8 Ole Miss Hands No. 23 UNCW Its First Loss of 2017
Feb. 24, 2017

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OXFORD, Miss.
– Another ranked team came to Swayze Field Friday night and just like last week, another left with its first loss of the season. A four-run second inning combined with a pitching staff that limited the visitors to three hits propelled the No. 8 Ole Miss baseball team to a 7-2 win over No. 23 UNCW.

The win keeps the Rebels (5-0) unbeaten on the season, while the Seahawks (3-1) suffered their first loss. Head coach Mike Bianco also picked up his 635th win as coach of the Rebels, passing longtime Auburn coach Hal Baird for seventh on the Southeastern Conference’s all-time wins list.

Starting pitcher David Parkinson (2-0) was perfect through four innings, and he pitched with a comfortable lead for the majority of his outing. The lefty earned the win by going 6.0 innings and allowing just two runs (one earned) on three hits. He also struck out six to match his career high for the second consecutive week. Closing out the game was sophomore Dallas Woolfolk (2), who didn’t allow a single baserunner in 2.1 innings of relief.

Freshman Grae Kessinger tallied his second three-hit night over the past three games, going 3-for-3 to provide a spark at the bottom of the lineup. Chase Cockrell went 2-for-4 with a pair of runs and added his first homer as a Rebel. Another newcomer, freshman Thomas Dillard, left the yard for the first time in an Ole Miss uniform with a two-run home run in the eighth inning.

Nick Feight and Mason Berne recorded UNCW’s three hits. Feight hit a solo home run, while Berne went 2-for-4 with a double. On the mound, Alex Royalty (1-1) gave up five runs on five hits and four walks in 6.0 innings of work.

After Parkinson retired the first six hitters of the game, the Rebels used patience at the plate to score the first run of the game in the bottom of the second. Dillard walked before stealing second base to get into scoring position. Back-to-back free passes, including a bases-loaded walk by Cooper Johnson, allowed Ole Miss to take the early lead. With the bases still full of Rebels, a Kessinger single and a Ryan Olenek sacrifice fly brought two more Rebels around to score. Will Golsan added another RBI base hit to finish the four-run inning.

Following another 1-2-3 inning by Parkinson, the Ole Miss lead grew to 5-0 when Cockrell laced a solo homer over the wall in left-center field. The Rebel starting pitcher remained perfect through the first four innings, but a leadoff hit in the fifth ended a streak of 12 straight hitters retired by the southpaw.

The Seahawks finally got on the board in the seventh when Feight started the inning with a home run to left. First baseman Mason Berne nearly went back-to-back but his double bounced off the center field wall, forcing Bianco to lift his starting pitcher with nobody out. After an error allowed another UNCW run to cross the plate, Connor Green and Woolfolk combined to get the Rebels out of the inning with a three-run cushion, 5-2.

Dillard brought the lead back to five in the bottom of the eighth. After Colby Bortles drew a walk, the Ole Miss freshman crushed a full-count pitch deep into the student section in right field. The two-run homer made it a 7-2 game, and Woolfolk sent the Seahawks down in order in the ninth to wrap up the win.

Ole Miss will look to lock up the series tomorrow as game two begins at 12 p.m. from Swayze Field. Sophomore James McArthur will make his second start of the 2017 campaign, matching up against UNCW’s Josh Roberson. Will Kollmeyer and David Dellucci will have the call on SECN+, while Eli Savoie and Keith Kessinger will bring you the game on the Ole Miss IMG Sports Network.

Quick Hits

  • Ole Miss improved to 5-0 for the fourth time in the past five years.
  • Thus far in 2017, the Rebels have handed each of their three opponents its first loss of the season.
  • For the third straight game, Ole Miss scored at least four runs in an inning (four in the second).
  • Sophomore Chase Cockrell hit his first career homer with a solo shot in the third.
  • David Parkinson retired the first 12 hitters he faced and finished his night allowing one earned run on three hits with six strikeouts.
  • Freshman Thomas Dillard belted the first home run of his career with a two-run blast in the eighth.
  • The bottom two hitters in the lineup, catcher Cooper Johnson and shortstop Grae Kessinger, reached base six times on the night; Johnson went 1-for-1 with a walk and Kessinger added three singles.
  • Attendance for the game was 10,041 (19th-largest in Swayze Field history).
  • Head coach Mike Bianco earned his 635th win at Ole Miss, passing longtime Auburn coach Hal Baird for seventh on the SEC’s all-time wins list.

 

 

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