OXFORD, Miss. — After defeating Arkansas State and improving to 11-0 in midweek games, Ole Miss welcomed Georgia to Swayze Field for the first time since 2014. Unfortunately, it just didn’t fall the Rebels way as Georgia was able to come out on top with a final of 3-2.
Georgia got on the board early after taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Ryan Rolison got the start on Friday and pitched a good one after giving up a run in the first. His second earned run didn’t come until the eighth after he had been pulled. He allowed seven hits, two earned runs and struck out six Georgia batters in seven innings of work.
“We just didn’t play well enough,” head coach Mike Bianco said.
“The story was that they played a little bit better than us in all three phases.”
Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco
The Rebels looked to get things going early as well, loading the bases with only one out. However, they would ground into a double play and fail to capitalize on a golden opportunity.
“Those in-game battles that we were so good at early in the season make all the difference in the world,” Bianco said. “A pitch here to get off the field, a play, a big at-bat, we just haven’t done enough of the past few days.”
Both offenses were pretty stagnant for the next five innings–until Grae Kessinger decided he wanted to get in on the action, sending one to the left-field stands to even things up at one.
“It was one of those slider/cutter things he was throwing,” Kessinger said. “He just left it up and over the middle and I got a good swing on it.”
Georgia was able to retake the lead in the eighth at 2-1, but in the bottom half Thomas Dillard tied it up again with an RBI single that scored Ryan Olenek. Dillard finished 1-2 at the plate and drew two walks.
“It’s just the way baseball goes sometimes,” Kessinger said.
“We won a lot of these early, and it just hasn’t fallen our way the past few games. But I don’t think the confidence is wavering. Everybody believes in each other now more than ever, and that’s whats gonna make this team special in the end.”
Ole Miss shortstop Grae Kessinger
The Bulldogs scored again in the ninth to take a 3-2 lead over the Rebs, which would wind up being the final score of the game. Ole Miss has now dropped three straight SEC games, the longest streak of the year.
“We’re ready (for tomorrow’s doubleheader),” Bianco said. “They’re anxious to get back out there.”
On the bright side, Ryan Olenek extended his hitting streak to 17 games when he singled to right field in the eighth; he has also safely reached base in 19 straight. Entering the game, he was hitting .508 in league play, good for second in the SEC, to go along with a ridiculous 1.257 OPS.
“As an offense, we believe we can hit anybody even if they have their stuff,” Kessinger said. “It’s frustrating but we’re gonna come out tomorrow and be ready to go.”
(Grae Kessinger – Video credit: Justin Dial, The Rebel Walk)