JONESBORO, Ark. – The Rebels jumped out to a quick start with a four-run first inning and raced past the Red Wolves with three big innings as No. 11 Ole Miss (38-15) defeated Arkansas State (29-23) by a score of 16-9 Tuesday night.
Ole Miss put at least four runs on the board in the first, fifth and seventh innings to run past the Red Wolves. Colby Bortles delivered the knockout blow in the seventh, hitting his first career home run with a grand slam.
Arkansas State would rally with a five-run eighth inning, but Ole Miss had put the game out of reach and held on for the win to close out non-conference play.
Evan Anderson (2-0) picked up the win as he worked 4.0 innings in a predetermined start, allowing two runs – one earned – on three hits with a walk and a career-high six strikeouts. He was one of six pitchers used on the night.
Tanner Gaines (4-1) took the loss for the Red Wolves, allowing four runs on four hits with a walk in 1.0 inning of work.
“I’m really proud of the guys and the offense for showing that toughness and coming out and getting those runs early,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “It was just a tough night with the weather and the rain. It makes it tough to pitch and to defend. I was glad to get those runs and then to see the grand slam from Colby (Bortles). You’re happy to see a kid hit his first home run, but then as the game went on it was an important one.
“Evan (Anderson) was terrific tonight as he continues to work,” Bianco said. “He hasn’t been able to log a lot of innings, but he’s been solid for us when he’s pitched and tonight was no different.”
Ole Miss got off to a quick start with an infield single from Braxton Lee, a double from Auston Bousfield and then a two-RBI triple from Austin Anderson to open the game. Will Allen then drew a walk before Sikes Orvis delivered an RBI groundout to first to score Anderson and take the lead out to 3-0 for the Rebels.
The runs continued to come in with a two-out triple to center from Will Jamison as Ole Miss held a 4-0 lead on the Red Wolves after the top of the first.
The Rebels added to the lead in the fourth when Lee reached with a single before stealing second and third with Bousfield at the plate. He then scored when Bousfield drove a sac fly to right field to take the lead out to 5-0.
Arkansas State got on the board in the home half of the fourth, using back-to-back singles to right around a stolen base to get the first run home. Tanner Ring opened with a single to right before stealing second. He came home a batter later when Matt Burgess also delivered a single to right field that cut the lead to 5-1.
The Red Wolves then got a bunt single down the third base line from Joe Schrimpf and a throwing error on the play allowed Schrimpf to go to second while Burgess went first to third. A sac bunt from Lucas Feddersen then brought a second run home, cutting the lead to 5-2 in favor of the Rebels after the fourth.
Ole Miss wasted no time with an answering statement, using doubles from four of the first five batters in the fifth inning to take the lead out to 8-2. The lead continued to grow with the fifth hit in the inning as Robinson drove an RBI single to center and the Rebels took the lead out to seven runs. An RBI groundout from Bousfield capped the scoring in the ending as Ole Miss held a 10-2 lead on the Red Wolves after the top of the fifth.
Colby Bortles then put an exclamation point on the game, delivering his pinch-hit grand slam with two outs in the seventh to put Ole Miss up 14-2.
Arkansas State would get a run back in the home half of the inning with back-to-back doubles to open the inning. Two batters later, the Rebels would turn a double play with men at the corners to get a second out as the Red Wolves brought a second run home and cut the lead to 14-4 before the Rebels got out of the inning.
The Rebels got a second home run in the game when Overbey hit a solo shot to left center, giving him three home runs on the season. Ole Miss would go on to load the bases in the inning before Henri Lartigue would draw a walk to bring home a second run and take the lead out to 16-4.
Arkansas State would not go away, bringing two more runs home in the eighth following a pair of walks. Zach Maggio doubled to right center to bring the runners home. Ty Michelotti then hit an RBI single up the middle before Ole Miss would turn to the bullpen for right-hander Jacob Waguespack in relief of Hawtin Buchanan.
The Red Wolves got a two-RBI double to center from Burgess to bring the runners in as Arkansas State cut the lead to 16-9.
Scott Weathersby would hold the Red Wolves off the board in the ninth as the Rebels picked up the win.
Ole Miss will return to action on Thursday night, opening a three-game series at Texas A&M to close out the regular season. Game one of the series is set for a 6:35 p.m. first pitch, while Friday’s game will start at 7:03 p.m. on ESPNU. Saturday’s series finale will begin at 2:05 p.m.
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