Select Page

Weekend Wrap-Up: No. 10 Ole Miss clinches series win over Tulane

Weekend Wrap-Up: No. 10 Ole Miss clinches series win over Tulane

For the first time in the 2019 campaign, Ole Miss baseball hit the road as the Rebels travelled to the Big Easy to face Tulane. In what proved to be a back and forth affair, the series came down to the Sunday rubber game in which the No. 10 Rebels (4-2) prevailed, 6-3, to clinch the series victory.

Game One: Ole Miss 6, Tulane 4

(Click here for box score.)

With Friday-night starter Will Ethridge sidelined because of a blister on his throwing hand, junior Zack Phillips, the usual Saturday starter, took the mound for Ole Miss in the opening game against the Green Wave.

Ole Miss took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning when right fielder Anthony Servideo scored on a Ryan Olenek single to right field. 

In the second inning, designated hitter Chase Cockrell scored from third during a rundown between first and second that involved catcher Cooper Johnson, giving Ole Miss a 2-0 lead. 

Tulane tied the game in the bottom of the third with two runs, before taking a 4-2 lead over the Rebels after scoring two more runs in the fifth. 

Ole Miss first baseman Cole Zabowski would tie the game at 4-4 in the sixth inning with his first home run of 2019. The two-run homer, hit to dead center field, measured in excess of 400 feet and scored Olenek who had reached base after being hit by a pitch. 

In the seventh inning, lead-off hitter Grae Kessinger launched a solo homer off the Tulane scoreboard that gave Ole Miss a 5-4 lead.

Tulane Radio’s Todd Graffagnini, calling the game on Tulane All-Access TV, sounded noticeably chagrined:  “Driven to deep left . . . wow . . . at the wall, it’s gone,” he announced.

Later in the seventh, the Rebels added an insurance run after consecutive Ole Miss hitters—Tim Elko and Tyler Keenan—were each hit by pitches, and Thomas Dillard singled home Elko with a hit to right center.

The defensive play of the game came in the eighth inning when Cooper Johnson picked off a Tulane runner at first base with the Green Wave sitting with runners at first and second and one out.  Head coach Mike Bianco praised his junior catcher as “…such a weapon back there.” 

Pitching: 

Starter Zack Phillips went 4 ⅓ innings, allowing four runs on six hits. Junior Austin Miller earned the win, pitching one and two-third innings of scoreless baseball.

Freshman Doug Nikhazy allowed no runs in one and one-third innings. He gave way to closer Parker Caracci who earned his first save of the season as he held the Green Wave off the scoreboard for the last one and two-third innings.

After the game, head coach Mike Bianco acknowledged how his Rebels had battled for the win. “There’s going to be nights like this and you gotta figure out how to score runs,” he said. 

Bianco expressed pride in his bullpen and remarked on his freshman, Nikhazy, whom Bianco said displayed “…confidence, composure, and competitiveness” on the mound. 

Game Two: Ole Miss 12, Tulane 13

(Click here for box score.) 

With Phillips assuming the Friday starter role in place of the injured Ethridge, Coach Bianco looked to junior Houston Roth to provide veteran leadership on the mound as Saturday’s starter.  

The lead changed hands in almost every inning of the game—including a go-ahead home run in the top of the ninth from the Rebels that was, unfortunately, followed by Tulane’s walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth.

Ole Miss would strike first for the second day in a row with Dillard doubling home Zabowski in the first inning.

Tulane answered in the bottom of the first with an unearned run, and following a scoreless second for the Rebels, took a 2-1 lead over Ole Miss in the second.  

In the third inning, the Rebels would bring the “big sticks” to the plate as a three-run home run off the bat of Dillard scored Olenek and Kessinger and gave Ole Miss a 4-2 lead. 

Keenan followed Dillard’s heroics with a solo home run that pushed the Rebels’ lead to 5-2. 

Unfortunately for the Red and Blue, Tulane would tie the game at 5-5 in the bottom half of the third inning. 

After a scoreless fourth inning from both teams, Tulane plated three runs in the fifth to assume an 8-5 lead.

In the top of the sixth, Elko knocked a solo home run to right field to bring the Rebels to within two at 8-6. Tulane answered, however, in the form of Mathew’s two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth that pushed the Green Wave’s lead to 10-6. 

The Rebels weren’t done, though, as Bianco’s bunch rallied to within one, 10-9, manufacturing three runs off one hit and a huge Tulane error. 

It was in the Tulane half of the eighth inning that craziness ensued. 

With the bases loaded and no outs, Tulane hit a ball to Olenek in center field.  It was ruled a “no-catch,” confusing the Tulane runners and batter. Ole Miss eventually threw to third base for one out, and the Tulane batter was ruled out for passing the runner who started the play at first. The end result of all that was the Green Wave scoring its only run of the inning—and the Rebels recording a truly bizarre double play.

At the end of eight innings, Tulane held an 11-9 lead—but the Rebels weren’t done yet. 

After lead-off singles in the ninth from Kessinger and Olenek, Thomas Dillard took over. He hammered a 1-0 offering from the Tulane pitcher over the right field wall, scoring both Kessinger and Olenek and giving Ole Miss a 12-11 lead. 

Dillard accounted for an incredible eight of Ole Miss’ 11 RBI on the day. 

Unfortunately, closer Parker Caracci fell victim to a two-run homer from David Bedgood that gave the Green Wave a 13-12 win in game two. 

“The guys played hard, but unfortunately we didn’t come away with the win,” Coach Bianco said after the game. 

Game Three: Ole Miss 6, Tulane 3

(Click here for box score.)

With the series hanging in the balance, Tulane got off to an early lead over the Rebels with a solo home run in the second inning from Saturday’s Green Wave hero, David Begwood. Later in the second, Tulane would add a sacrifice fly and RBI single to take a 3-0 lead over the Rebels.

Fortunately, those three runs in the third inning were all the Ole Miss pitching staff would allow throughout the rest of the game. 

Ole Miss scored two in the top half of the third inning on the heels of four consecutive two-out singles from Kessinger, Olenek, Keenan (RBI) and Dillard (RBI) that cut the Tulane lead to 3-2 after three complete. 

The scrappy and resilient Rebels put two runs on the board in the seventh inning via a walk from Michael Fitzsimmons, a stolen base from pinch runner Josh Hall, a Servideo RBI single, and a Keenan RBI single than gave Ole Miss a 4-3 lead.

Ole Miss stretched its lead in the eighth inning with a second Servideo RBI single and a throwing error by the Tulane catcher that allowed the second Rebel run of the inning to score, giving Ole Miss a 6-3 advantage which would prove to be the final score. 

“That’s what wins games—that timely hit,” Coach Bianco said after the two RBI in the series-clinching win. 

Pitching

Rebels’ starter Gunnar Hogland threw four innings in game three. In relief, Austin Miller threw one and one-third innings. Kaleb Hill went one-third of an inning, and Tyler Myers pitched for one inning.

Conner Green took the mound for Ole Miss in the sixth inning with just one out and Tulane runners on first and third base. Green induced a one-pitch pop-up to Kessinger and a one-pitch ground-out, also to Kessinger, as he allowed only a single hit in the seventh that ultimately earned him the win.

Freshman Doug Nikhazy pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to record the save, the first of his Ole Miss career. The Rebels’ bullpen had retired the last eight Tulane hitters without allowing a baserunner.

Keenan lauded his pitching staff.  “The pen was gross,” he said. “They (Tulane) only scored in one inning . . . after that it was shut down. It was a big confidence booster.”

Coach Bianco praised Green’s poise. “He deserved it,” the Ole Miss skipper said, of Green’s win. “That (sixth inning) was a huge moment in the game.”

“Today was all about pitching,” Bianco added. “One earned run…no walks. Much cleaner for us on the mound.”

Quick Hits

  • Ole Miss improved to 4-2 on the season and 2-1 on the road.
  • The Rebels now hold an 89-39 advantage in the all-time series against Tulane.
  • Connor Green earned his first career win, throwing 1.1 scoreless innings with one strikeout. Green pitched twice this week, yielding no runs on three hits with five Ks.
  • Doug Nikhazy earned his first career save after throwing a perfect ninth inning. The freshman out of Windermere, Florida, made three appearances on the mound this week, allowing no runs on four hits with six strikeouts over 3.1 innings.
  • Five Rebels hit over .300 this week: Anthony Servideo (.333), Grae Kessinger (.353), Tyler Keenan (.412), Thomas Dillard (.412) and Ryan Olenek (.500).
  • Thomas Dillard slugged 1.118 this week with a double, a triple, three home runs and 13 RBI.

(Quick Hits are courtesy of Ole Miss Baseball.)

Next Up: 

The Rebels return home to face UT Martin on Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. (CT) before a weekend series at Swayze vs. Long Beach State. First pitch on Friday is set for 6:30 p.m., while the Saturday and Sunday games are schedule for 1:30 p.m. and 12 Noon, respectively. 

HOTTY TODDY! 

About The Author

Chris Muller

Chris Muller is a 1995 Graduate of Ole Miss. He is a collegiate recreational sports professional currently residing in Arlington Texas with his wife of 19 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.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: