OXFORD, Miss. – (Courtesy of Ole Miss Media Relations) No. 1 seed Ole Miss rode the wave of a dominant start from Will Ethridge and cruised to a 16-2 opening-night victory over the No. 4 seed Jacksonville State Gamecocks to start the NCAA Oxford Regional off in the win column.
The Ole Miss bats exploded for 16 runs in their first game of NCAA Tournament play, all while allowing just three hits to the Rebels’ 15. Every member of the starting lineup for Ole Miss today recorded a hit and a run scored. The balls were flying out of the yard, too, with three Rebels walking away from today’s contest with a home run: Tyler Keenan, Thomas Dillard, and Anthony Servideo.
The Rebel ace was fantastic in the regional debut, turning in 7.0 IP of three-hit baseball with just a pair of runs allowed. At one point in the game, he had even retired 20 straight Gamecocks batters.Ole Miss now advances to the winner’s bracket, where they match up with the No. 3 seed Clemson Tigers for a spot in the Regional Championship Game. The first pitch will be tomorrow at 6 p.m. CT.
Jacksonville State struck first with a run in the top of the first, but it would turn out to be the exception, not the norm, in an otherwise perfect outing for Will Ethridge. His very first batter faced lined a double to right-center, before advancing two bases on back-to-back groundouts.
The double by Tre Kirklin would stand as the only hit for the Gamecocks through six innings. Ethridge rebounded to sit down 20 consecutive batters, limiting Jacksonville State to just three batters each inning until the seventh. He picked up three strikeouts along the way, all without walking a single batter, extending his walk drought to 24 consecutive innings without allowing a free pass.
While Ethridge was shutting it down on the mound, the Rebels were getting it done at the plate. Before starter Garrett Farmer was even able to record an out in the first inning, he had allowed three hits, a walk, and a run scored. He managed to survive his first inning, but only after the Rebels put up two runs on three hits and two walks.
Thomas Dillard, Grae Kessinger and Cole Zabowski all singled into the outfield before the first out of the frame, with the first two later coming around to score to see Ole Miss take a lead that it would not relinquish for the rest of the game.
In the third, Tyler Keenan followed up a leadoff walk to Kessinger with a two-run monster of a home run down the line in right to put the Rebels up 4-1. It was Keenan’s team-best 14th homer of the season, and it was a big one, clearing the student section in deep right field. The Rebels pushed one more across in the fourth, but exploded for five runs in the fifth to put the contest out of reach.
After the first two batters flew out, six straight Rebels managed to reach base with two outs, allowing the entire Ole Miss lineup to see the plate in the inning. Kevin Graham sent two home on an RBI double into right field, right before Cooper Johnson tacked on another with an RBI single right back up the middle. Anthony Servideo then flexed his muscles with a two-run home run to right center for just the third homer of his career.
Just two innings later, it was déjà vu for the Rebels, who bounced right back to put up another five spot with all five again coming with two outs in the inning. Jacob Adams notched his first RBI of the day with a single that managed to score both Johnson and Servideo, but that was just the beginning. A batter later, Dillard unloaded for his 11th homer of the year, and just his first since the series against LSU. Zabowski then capped the frame with an RBI single to put the Rebels on top 15-2.
After tossing a near-perfect six innings, Ethridge finally allowed a runner to reach in the seventh inning, ending his streak of 20 straight batters retired. The runner would come around to score, but it mattered little as his offense had already assured him a win.
Taylor Broadway would finish out the night on the mound, delivering two flawless innings as the Rebels cruised to a blowout victory over Jacksonville State.
Ole Miss now advances to the winner’s bracket, with a game against three-seed Clemson set for Saturday at 6 p.m. CT
– Ole Miss improves to 38-25 on the year.
– After Jacksonville State scored in the first inning, Ole Miss worked from behind for their 18th come-from-behind win of the season. The Rebels are now an impressive 16-13 on the year when the opponent scores first.
– Ole Miss has scored five or more runs in an inning 20 times this season.
– All nine starters for the Rebels recorded at least one run and one hit in the win over JSU.
– Ole Miss plated 11 of their 16 runs with two outs.
– Eleven different Rebels had a hit, and three of them had a home run.
– Will Ethridge turned in a fantastic outing, and he’s now made it at least 6.0 IP in his last six starts. Over his last 24 innings pitched, he has not allowed one single walk.
– Anthony Servideo hit just the third home run of his career and his second this season, a two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth off of the Gamecocks starter.
– Servideo also stole third earlier in the game for his team-high 23rd stolen base of the year. He is second in the SEC in bases swiped, and boasts a 96 percent successful steal rate.
– Tyler Keenan retained his clubhouse lead with his 14th home run of the season in the third inning. It was his first homer since May 18.
– Thomas Dillard hit his 11th home run of the year, and just his first since May 4 against LSU.
– Kevin Graham notched his eighth career multiple-RBI game.