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HOOVER, Ala. – Ole Miss used dominant pitching to defeat Missouri, 2-1, Tuesday in opening round action of the SEC Baseball Tournament. The No. 7 seed Rebels (34-24) now enter the double-elimination part of the tournament and will face No. 2 seed Arkansas in the second game of Wednesday’s slate.
Ole Miss pitcher Will Ethridge went 7.0 innings and earned his sixth win of the season. Ethridge allowed just one run and finished the day with six strikeouts and no walks.
Sorry Hoover we should've warned you that Godzilla was coming to town. That's our bad. 🤦♂️ pic.twitter.com/PdBXGDXtCW
— Ole Miss Baseball (@OleMissBSB) May 22, 2019
“I pretty much just prepare on how I do for every outing and just treat this like normal, trust the bullpen and keep competing,” Ethridge said about how he readied himself for the game. “I couldn’t have done it without the defense who came up with big double plays which helped me get off the field.”
After a scoreless first inning, Missouri’s Thomas Broyles and Austin James notched back-to-back doubles in the second to take a 1-0 lead as the teams headed to the bottom of the inning.
The Tigers and Rebels went scoreless in the third and fourth innings, with Ethridge tallying two 1-2-3 innings in a row.
In the bottom of the fifth, Jacob Adams hit a leadoff double, followed by a double from Thomas Dillard that plated Adams and tied the game at 1-1. Grae Kessinger laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt that moved Dillard to third. The Rebels’ left fielder scored when Cole Zabowski hit an RBI single to center field that plated Dillard and gave Ole Miss a 2-1 lead after five complete.
In the sixth inning, Ryan Olenek made a heads up play in center to double off Missouri’s Zimmerman and end the Missouri threat. The Tigers began the inning with a leadoff single from Zimmerman, followed by McDaniel’s foul out to Tyler Keenan. Ortiz then flied out to center where Olenek caught the ball and fired it in from the outfield to double Zimmerman off at first.
That moment when you think you just caught a routine pop fly but realize you've got a double play on your hands.
— Ole Miss Baseball (@OleMissBSB) May 21, 2019
Missouri led off the seventh with a single but the Rebels soon turned a double play. Ethridge then earned his sixth strikeout of the game to end the Missouri part of the seventh. Ethridge finished with 101 pitches.
Coach Bianco praised his junior pitcher after the game. “Not a better guy for us on the mound than Will Ethridge,” he said.
“You know, pitching that kind of game. I said it to the team and I’ve said it for a while, but a lot of credit has to go to our team and probably the guy that is the least talked about for the success of our team is Will. He was just tremendous on Friday (vs. Tennessee). He deserves a better record, but if you look at the rest of the statistics he has pitched tremendous. Today was just another chapter of how well he’s played this year and how well he’s pitched.”
Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco
Ethridge was relieved by Tyler Myers who was outstanding on the mound as he promptly struck out the Missouri side with 20 pitches.
Throwing that 🔥💨 out of the bullpen! @ughty_ strikes out the side, including this nasty breaker to get one of college baseball's most dangerous hitters, Kameron Misner.
— Ole Miss Baseball (@OleMissBSB) May 21, 2019
Looking to preserve a 2-1 lead, Coach Bianco turned to senior Ryan Olenek to pitch the final inning. Olenek hit the first batter up, Zimmerman, but then induced McDaniel to pop up to short for the first out of the inning. Ortiz then flied out to left field for the second out. Holt (pinch running for Zimmerman) advanced to second on a passed ball. Gomez drew a walk, but Olenek then struck out Broyles to end the game.
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) May 21, 2019
It represented the second save for Olenek in as many games, as he took the mound in the save against the Tennessee Volunteers this past weekend.
“I wanted to just throw strikes and that’s my mentality to throw strikes. Just prepare like you would normally. It felt good to be out there. I love being out there, given an opportunity and try to take advantage of it.”
Ole Miss senior Ryan Olenek
Ethridge, Myers and Olenek held the Tigers to just one run on seven hits and one Ole Miss error. “Just a tremendous college baseball game,” Bianco said.
“We’ve said so much to our team this year, it takes all kinds (of ways to win) this time of year. Today was one of those pitching, defensive types of games.”
Coach Bianco on the Rebels’ win
– Ole Miss improves to 34-23 on the year.
– Ole Miss has now won five straight games in the SEC Tournament.
– The Rebels advance to play the No. 2 seed Arkansas Razorbacks in the second game on Wednesday.
– With a come-from-behind victory today, Ole Miss has now come from behind for 15 wins this season.
– Ole Miss has now played in 14 one-run games this year, and is 8-6 in such games.
– Will Ethridge earned the win today after three consecutive outings where he was credited with a loss. He turned in 7.0 innings today with just one run allowed on six strikeouts and zero walks.
– Tyler Myers was flawless in one relief inning today, striking out the side in the eighth inning.
– After earning his first career save in Saturday’s game at Tennessee, Ryan Olenek turned right around worked the ninth inning today for his second career save.
– With a two-hit day today, Thomas Dillard is now 7-for-12 (.583) since being moved to the leadoff position in the series versus Tennessee.
Dillard, Olenek, Cole Zabowski, and Anthony Servideo each had multi-hit games.
(Quick Hits are courtesy of Ole Miss Baseball)
Ole Miss advances to play the No. 2 seed Arkansas Razorbacks in Wednesday’s second game of the day. The Rebels defeated the then-No. 8 ranked Razorbacks two games to one in a three-game series in Fayetteville earlier this year.
Evelyn has covered sports for over two decades, beginning her journalism career as a sports writer for a newspaper in Austin, Texas. She attended Texas A&M and majored in English. Evelyn’s love for Ole Miss began when her daughter Katie attended the university on a volleyball scholarship. Evelyn has covered Rebel sports for numerous outlets. In addition to working for The Rebel Walk, Evelyn is a sports writer for a newspaper in Texas.