Rebels use force to muscle past ULM

Published 9:19 am Wednesday, May 3, 2017

OXFORD — On Star Wars Night at Swayze Field, Ole Miss’ hitters used the force — brute force — to power past Louisiana-Monroe.

The Rebels mashed 17 hits and scored 18 unanswered runs in the last three innings to crush Louisiana-Monroe 21-7 on Tuesday.

It was the most runs Ole Miss has scored since 2009, and a season high for hits. Seven players had multi-hit games, led by Tate Blackman and Nick Fortes with three hits apiece.

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Fortes went 3-for-5 with two home runs, six RBIs and four runs scored. Blackman was 3-for-4 with a triple and three runs scored.

“It was a lot of fun,” Fortes told The Oxford Eagle in a postgame interview. “With our team struggling a little bit in the month of March hitting the ball, it feels good to put 21 up. I think it boosts a lot of confidence, too, and helps us get going a little bit because sometimes you need games like this to get going.”

Ryan Olenek also hit a two-run home run for the Rebels (28-17), who scored five runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to take an 8-7 lead and then kept pouring it on.

Ole Miss batted around and scored four runs in the fifth inning, and then scored nine times in the sixth. Fortes homered twice in the sixth inning, a two-run shot early that made it 14-7 and then a three-run blast later on to make it 21-7.

Andy Pagnozzi pitched a scoreless seventh and the game ended after that because of college baseball’s mercy rule.

“We haven’t done that much,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “We haven’t had a lot of those 9-7 games, 12-10 games. We think we have a good offense. We’ve talked about it. I think we’ve outhit our opponents eight out of the last nine games, so we’re certainly swinging it a lot better.”

Anthony Herrera went 3-for-4 with a home run, two RBIs and two runs scored for Louisiana-Monroe (12-33), and Turner Francis also homered. The Warhawks were undone, however, by a shaky defense and pitching staff.
ULM committed three errors, and six pitchers combined to throw five wild pitches. Cole Trichel threw three while facing five batters in the sixth inning. The mistakes led to six unearned runs for Ole Miss.

Houston Roth (3-0) struck out five in 2 2/3 innings of one-hit relief to get the win.

Roth took over for fellow freshman Greer Holston, who allowed seven runs on nine hits in just 3 1/3 innings. Holston struck out five.