Rebels Emerge Victorious, 8-4, After Wild Eighth Inning
Feb. 25, 2017

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– After an incredible performance from its starting pitcher, the No. 8 Ole Miss baseball team saw its lead disappear in the top of the eighth but rallied in the bottom half of the frame to knock off No. 23 UNCW 8-4 Saturday afternoon at Swayze Field. A three-run homer gave the Seahawks (3-2) a 4-3 lead, but the Rebels (6-0) responded with five runs to clinch the series and remain unbeaten in 2017.

Ole Miss starting pitcher James McArthur turned in an outing that would’ve earned him a win on most days, taking a no-hit bid into the sixth inning. The sophomore allowed only one run on two hits and a walk, while striking out a career-high 11 over 6.0 innings of work.

The Rebels tallied 15 hits throughout the day, and freshman Cole Zabowski led the way with a career-high four. Team captains Tate Blackman and Colby Bortles found their swings as the duo combined for six hits. Blackman went 3-for-5 with one run and one RBI. Bortles followed with a 3-for-5 day as well, adding two doubles, two runs and two RBI. Coming off the bench, freshman Bryan Seamster delivered perhaps the biggest hit of the day with the two-run homer in the eighth that put Ole Miss ahead for good. The towering shot to right field was the first career home run for the Roanoke, Texas native. 

Designated hitter Nick Feight kept up his solid series for UNCW, going 2-for-4 with two runs and a three-run homer. Starter Josh Roberson worked out of jams, giving up only two runs on seven hits and recording eight strikeouts. The Ole Miss bats got hot against reliever Austin Magestro (0-1), chalking up five runs on six hits in his 1.1 innings of action.

Ole Miss threatened first by loading the bases in the bottom of the third; however, the Seahawks got out of the inning thanks to a stellar defensive play. With three Rebels on base, Will Golsan ripped a liner down the line, but it was snagged by the UNCW third baseman, who dove at the bag to catch the runner off and complete the double play.

After squandering an opportunity in the third, the Rebels bounced back by putting a run up in the fourth thanks to three of their freshmen. Thomas Dillard reached base for the second time in the contest, walking on five pitches before advancing to second on a wild pitch. Zabowski singled to put runners on the corners with one out, and Cooper Johnson hit a flyball to left that was deep enough to plate Dillard. The sequence gave Ole Miss a 1-0 lead through four.

McArthur was in cruise control from the start, retiring 17 of the first 18 hitters he faced. The tall right-hander went 5.2 innings before UNCW earned an infield single in the sixth. With two outs, Blackman dove to his left deep in the hole, but he couldn’t complete the web gem as the Seahawk reached base safely. However, McArthur got back to business by striking out the next hitter to end the inning and keep Ole Miss in front.

Playing small ball, the Rebels doubled their lead with another run in the sixth. Back-to-back base hits through the left side started the frame before Johnson’s sacrifice bunt moved both runners into scoring position. Two batters later, Ryan Olenek hit a fly to right, and Bortles tested the outfielder’s arm by tagging at third. The throw went up the line, allowing the senior to score and make it a 2-0 game.

The Seahawks hit a double to start the seventh, ending McArthur’s fantastic day. A balk and a single put UNCW on the board, but Ole Miss answered right back with a run in the bottom half. Following a pitching change, Bortles smacked the first pitch he saw into left field for an RBI double that kept Ole Miss ahead by two, 3-1.

In the top of the eighth, the game flipped on its head when UNCW took the lead with a three-run homer by Feight. However, despite the Seahawks taking their first lead of the series, the Rebels countered with a huge inning of their own. The scoring frenzy began when Blackman singled to center to score fellow middle infielder Grae Kessinger, tying the game at four. Following a groundout, the go-ahead run stood 90 feet away with two outs in the inning and Seamster at the plate. After entering the game as a pinch runner, the freshman stayed in the contest as the Rebels’ designated hitter. The decision by head coach Mike Bianco paid off, as Seamster crushed a 3-2 pitch to deep right field that gave Ole Miss the lead once again, 6-4. Back-to-back doubles by Kyle Watson and Bortles plated another run, and Zabowski tallied his fourth hit of the game with a RBI single up the middle to finish a wild inning.

Freshman Will Etheridge struck out two in the ninth on his way to retiring the side, securing the game as well as the series for Ole Miss.

The Rebels will go for the sweep tomorrow afternoon (Feb. 26) as Brady Feigl faces off against UNCW’s Logan Beehler. The action begins at 12 p.m. from Swayze Field. Those who can’t make it to Oxford can watch the game on SECN+ or listen on the Ole Miss IMG Sports Network.

Quick Hits

  • James McArthur recorded a career-high 11 strikeouts; he pitched 6.0 innings and allowed just one run on two hits and one walk.
  • For the second straight game, an Ole Miss starting pitcher kept UNCW without a hit for the first four innings; McArthur didn’t allow a hit until two outs in the sixth inning.
  • Cole Zabowski went 4-for-5 with one RBI to record a new career high in hits.
  • With his go-ahead two-run homer in the eighth, freshman Bryan Seamster hit his first career home run.
  • For the fourth consecutive game, Ole Miss scored at least four runs in an inning (five in the eighth).
  • The Rebels have rallied from behind in four of their six games this season.
  • Five of Ole Miss’ six wins have come against ranked teams.
  • Ole Miss is 6-0 for the third time in the last five years and seventh under head coach Mike Bianco.






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