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OXFORD – Entering the game against UT-Martin, Ole Miss had outscored its opponents 31-6 in the initial period thus far this season. However, the Rebels found themselves down, 2-0, after one complete against the Skyhawks Tuesday.
Though No. 6 Ole Miss (20-2) was outscored in the opening inning, the Rebels remained cool, calm and collected as they put together four runs in the bottom of the eighth to propel themselves to the 8-2 win over UT-Martin in the School Day game at Swayze Field.
Since arriving in Oxford, head coach Mike Bianco is now 8-0 against the Skyhawks. More importantly, Ole Miss has won 20 of its first 22 games for the first time in school history.
“It certainly wasn’t a great offensive day for us,” Bianco said afterwards. “The offense was real stagnant for a while. We just had too many easy outs mixed in. But eventually, at the end, we were able to put some good at-bats together.”
The Rebels had to play catch up after the first inning and received great contributions from Tate Blackman and Cameron Dishon.
Blackman hit his second home run of the season to left center field, with Bortles on first base, to tie UT-Martin, two-all, in the bottom of the second.
“It was definitely a good swing I had,” Blackman said. “I give credit to the wind. The wind got most of it and it just kept going,” he added.
Cameron Dishon, then, singled up the middle with Nick Fortes and Ryan Olenek on base. Fortes advanced to second; Olenek scored. The Rebels had their first lead of the afternoon, 3-2, and seemed to be in great rhythm following the slow start that helped the Skyhawks (7-14) jump out to the first-inning lead.
Colby Bortles’ third home run of the season in the bottom of the fifth gave Ole Miss a comfortable 4-2 lead, and then Michael Fitzsimmons’ RBI single up the middle scored two on base.
Then Dishon’s fourth home run of the season—this one to left field—sealed UT-Martin’s chances of a rally:
Starting RHP pitcher James McArthur struck out seven batters in five innings—a new career-high. He picked up the win for Ole Miss.
Andrew Lowe retired both batters he faced and ended the game.
Austin Taylor’s second homer of the season was the highlight for the Skyhawks in the early minutes of the first inning and was a positive for UT-Martin team that came in winless against Ole Miss under Bianco. But the Skyhawks didn’t have much to celebrate after Taylor’s big hit as the Rebels started to gain momentum and didn’t look back.
Taylor came in Tuesday’s matchup leading the team in hits, doubles, and RBI’s while posting a .315 batting average. But Taylor simply couldn’t do everything by himself.
Ole Miss hosts the 10th-ranked Gamecocks on Thursday (6:30 p.m. CT, SEC Network+), followed by Friday’s 6:30 p.m. (CT) game (SEC Network+) and Saturday’s 2:00 p.m. (SEC Network) matchup.
(Feature image credit: Petre/Thomas, Ole Miss Athletics)
Courtney is from Memphis and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Memphis in May of 2014. He began his journalism career covering the Memphis Tigers Men’s basketball team, which landed him an intern position on 730 Yahoo Sports Radio and a position with Rivals.com. A freelance writer for the Associated Press, Courtney is also a member of The Rebel Walk team and reports regularly on Ole Miss football and basketball. Courtney, the father of a six-year old girl named Soniyah, prefers to cover NCAA basketball and football, but is happy to report on any other sport that comes his way.