No. 5 Ole Miss Baseball Downs New Orleans for 20th Win
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By Brian Scott Rippee, Ole MissSports.com
OXFORD, Miss - Thomas Dillard hasn't gotten many opportunities from the right side of the plate this season.
The switch-hitting sophomore's .333 average has largely been weighted on his success from the left side. But in Ole Miss' 9-4 win over New Orleans on Tuesday, Dillard smashed a pair of elevated fastballs for a four RBI day, helping make the Rebels the first 20-win team in college baseball this season.
The first came in the third inning, a solo shot he demolished to the opposite field well over the right field fence to extend the Rebels' lead to 4-0 after Privateer pitcher Rafe Schindler stumbled through the second inning, walking in a run and falling victim to a pair of errors and an Anthony Servideo infield single. Ole Miss led 3-0 before Dillard took Schindler's successor, freshman lefty Christopher DeMayo, deep to right.
"I have been feeling pretty good and working with Coach Clement to get my swing where it needs to be, focusing on getting pitches up and driving them," Dillard said. "Luckily, I got two up today and did a good job of driving them."
Dillard has noted a couple times this season he's been working on driving pitches to the opposite field, staying through the ball with his legs. He found tangible results yet again on the day.
"I always like hitting good balls to the opposite field," Dillard said. "Coach Clement came up to me afterward and said those were the two best balls he has seen me hit right-handed."
It spotted Houston Roth a 4-0 lead after three. Roth struck out the first four hitters he faced, cruising through the first three frames before running into some minor trouble in the fourth and fifth innings in which New Orleans tagged him for a run in the fourth and two more in the fifth. He did enough to earn the win to improve to 3-0 on the season.
"The stuff was not terrific but he is a battler," Bianco said of his sophomore right-hander. "That's what makes him so good. It was one of those tough days. When you score runs and it's cold, those long innings hurt you where he sat there for a while. I thought he did really well hanging in there."
Dillard put the game away in the fourth. He stepped into the box with the bases loaded and tattooed a ball up in zone off of DeMayo, missing a grand slam to center field by roughly a foot, which resulted in a bases-clearing, three-RBI triple to give Ole Miss a 7-1 lead. Dillard was 2-for-4 on the day.
"It's amazing because he really can hit well right-handed," Bianco said. "Last year was the opposite because he got off to a good start from the right side. He can do it from both sides and obviously today he showed that."
Will Golsan followed him with an RBI double to make it 8-1 at the time. Golsan was also 2-for-4 with a double and a triple.
Ole Miss blanked the Privateers over three of the last four frames with the lone run coming off of Dallas Woolfolk in the ninth, a solo shot over the left field wall that represented his first run allowed this season. Woolfolk didn't pitch last weekend and Bianco wisely wanted to get him some work against live hitting before heading to Texas A&M this weekend. Woolfolk promptly struck out the next three batters after that.
The win got Ole Miss to 20-2 on the season. It will travel to College Station to begin a three-game set on Thursday night. First pitch is slated for 6:30 p.m. CT.
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