OXFORD, Miss. – Ole Miss defeated Winthrop, 3-1, in game three Sunday afternoon in Oxford to sweep the series against the Eagles. Head coach Mike Bianco and his squad have now swept the season-opening series for the third consecutive year.
(Click here for box score.)
Though they struggled somewhat at the plate, going 3-25 as a team, the Rebels were able to grind out a win. “My takeaway is how aggressive we were in all phases,” Bianco said afterwards.
“I thought the pitchers were really aggressive, guys taking the extra base I thought were really aggressive.”
James McArthur, who started the game on the mound for Ole Miss and went five innings while registering seven strikeouts, pitched three scoreless innings before Winthrop scored a run after McArthur’s throwing error.
“He was able to take their blows, and sometimes you just have to do that,” Bianco said.
“You gotta battle and compete and he really did that.”
Mike Bianco on James McArthur
Ole Miss was faced with its first deficit of the young season after the error, but the Rebels bounced back quickly in the bottom of the third when Ryan Olenek hit a sac-fly that brought Will Golsan home to tie the game at 1-1.
“We talked about those little battles and wars within the game,” Bianco said. “Last year where they pop it up in the infield or strikeout, today we get them in.”
Things got a little crazy in the seventh after a Jacob Adams single. The Eagles decided to walk Tim Elko, and Grae Kessinger promptly went to the plate and smacked a two-RBI single with two outs. After a lengthy review by the officials, the ruling on the field was confirmed that Adams was safe at home, when at first glance it might have appeared he was tagged.
“I knew it was gonna be a really close play,” Jacob Adams said. “I just went all out…and, sure enough, I was safe.”
Lefty Jordan Fowler made his Ole Miss debut on the mound in relief of James McArthur. Fowler threw two scoreless innings and notched three K’s while facing seven batters.
“It’s awesome to see a guy like Jordan Fowler, a freshman, come out there and absolutely fill up the zone and go after guys,” McArthur said.
Will Ethridge took over for Fowler in the eighth, and was followed by Dallas Woolfolk who went in to close the game in the ninth. After the game, McArthur commented on the Rebels’ pitching.
“You got Ethridge, always the same, coming in there to throw strikes. And then, of course, the most intimidating closer in the country, Dallas, comes in and does what he does.”
Although Ole Miss wasn’t putting the bat on the ball too well, they still found a way to win despite facing arguably Winthrop’s best arm on their staff.
“It’s always good to have those close games where it’s just a grind of a day,” Adams said. “It was good for us to have a close game and really have to grind it out at the end.”
Ole Miss plays Memphis Tuesday, February 20, in Oxford. First pitch is set for 4:00 p.m.