Rebels conclude Shriners College Classic
HOUSTON, Texas – At Minute Maid Park, Ole Miss finished the 2017 Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic with a narrow 5-3 loss to No. 1 ranked TCU. The Rebels went 0-3 against some of the top teams in the nation during the tournament.
Though Ole Miss didn’t win a game, head coach Mike Bianco felt the competition offered his young team the opportunity to learn and get better. After starting the season 7-0, the Rebels have shown some vulnerability, dropping their last four games: Memphis, Baylor, Texas Tech, and TCU.
Ole Miss vs. TCU
On Sunday afternoon in the eighth inning, the Rebel bats finally gave hungry Ole Miss fans something to cheer about. Sophomore second baseman Tate Blackman scored pinch hitter Bryce Blaum, who entered the game for Grae Kessinger.
Rebel third baseman Colby Bortles ignited the Ole Miss crowd in attendance with a two-run homerun to deep left field. By some accounts, the blast ended up on the train tracks at Minute Maid Park. For perspective, a similar home-run hit by Astro’s Nelson Cruz in May 2015 was measured at 469 feet. For his efforts on the weekend, Bortles was named to the 2017 Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic All-Tournament Team.
After the game Bortles said, “I think this was one of the hardest weekends offensively I’ve seen pitching-wise. We have to have better ABs (at-bats) and compete.” Bortles said he also hopes the 8th inning Sunday will be a confidence-booster for both himself and the rest of the team.
Starter Brady Feigl took the loss for Ole Miss, pitching five complete innings and allowing five runs on five hits. Feigl moves to 1-1 on the year. In relief, Will Ethridge looked solid, striking out four of the six outs he recorded, with no runs or hits given up. Dallas Woolfolk closed the game, also giving up no runs or hits.
Head Coach Mike Bianco thought the body language from the team was better Sunday than what he observed Saturday. He complimented the performances of Ethridge and Woolfolk saying they were “tremendous, with 12 up, 12 down.”
Bianco also felt the Rebels need to “be better on defense and more dominant on the mound.” Otherwise, Bianco felt the squad was in every game, and he was hopeful that the weekend was a learning experience for his young team.
SEC in the 2017 Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic
The SEC faltered somewhat over the weekend, going 2-7 with the lone victories being Texas A&M Friday afternoon and LSU Saturday afternoon. A record 53,565 attended the nine games over three days, shattering the previous record of 48,839 set in 2006.
TCU was crowned the Tournament Champion as the Horned Frogs defeated LSU, Texas A&M and Ole Miss, ending the weekend with a perfect 3-0 record.
What’s next for Ole Miss?
D1Baseball now ranks the Rebels #16 in the country, down from #11 last week. Ole Miss returns to action Tuesday, March 7, beginning a two-game series against Georgia State.
The weekend series is the last non-conference one of the season, as the Rebels will stay home in the friendly confines of Oxford-University Stadium for a three-game set vs. Furman University from the Southern Conference.
(Feature image credit: Chris Muller, The Rebel Walk)
Chris is our Director of Baseball Content and Senior Baseball Writer. Muller is a 1995 Graduate of Ole Miss. He is a collegiate recreational sports professional currently residing in Arlington Texas with his wife of 25 years, Amber, and German Shorthaired Pointer, Sophie. Chris is an avid Ole Miss Baseball and Football fan. His hobbies include watching college football and baseball and playing poker with his friends.