Ole Miss, Southern Miss win baseball openers

Published 9:33 pm Friday, February 16, 2018

OXFORD — Behind a stellar performance from sophomore Ryan Rolison, and a couple of key at-bats from veterans and fresh faces alike, Ole Miss opened the 2018 college baseball season with a 7-3 victory over Winthrop on Friday.

Rolison recorded a career-high 12 strikeouts, sophomore Thomas Dillard had three hits and scored three runs, and freshman Tyler Keenan drove in two runs, all en route to helping coach Mike Bianco clinch his 17th season-opening win in 18 seasons at Ole Miss behind a crowd of 8,797.

Keenan doubled in two runs in the second inning and Tim Rowe hit a three-run home run in the third as the Rebels jumped out to a 5-0 lead. Will Golsan made it 6-0 with an RBI single in the fourth inning.
All nine Ole Miss starters got a hit.

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“We were able to get the timely hit tonight, the two-out hit,” Bianco said. “We bunched hits together which we did not do last year. We talk about maxing it out. There are so many in-game battles we didn’t win last year. We had opportunities and we didn’t finish off innings in the field or at the plate. We did that tonight.”

Rolison allowed two walks and one hit in five innings of shutout ball. His previous career high was nine strikeouts, and he passed that when he got Cale Gibson to go down swinging to end the fourth inning.
Rolison struck out the side twice and exited after retiring the side in order in the fifth. Winthrop only put three balls in play against him.

“I had a little bit of adrenaline in the first inning with it being opening day,” Rolison said. “But I was able to battle, found my slider and just filled up the zone.”

Southern Miss 11, Mississippi State 0

In game one of their highly-anticipated season-opening series, it was Southern Miss that earned the bragging rights over Mississippi State.

Nick Sandlin threw seven innings of shutout ball, and the Golden Eagles scored in each of their last five at-bats to roll over the Bulldogs in front of a sold out crowd at Pete Taylor Park in Hattiesburg.

Matthew Guidry homered for Southern Miss, while Luke Reynolds went 2-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and three runs scored. Storme Cooper drove in three runs, and Guidry and Hunter Slater each knocked in two.

Sandlin struck out nine batters and allowed four hits and no walks in his seven-inning stint.
Mississippi State ace Konnor Pilkington only allowed two runs in four innings, but took the loss.

Southern Miss torched reliever Jared Liebelt for seven runs in 1 1/3 innings to blow the game open.
Pilkington threw 78 pitches in his 2018 debut, which MSU coach Andy Cannizaro said led to his short night.

“The pitch count was too high for Konnor,” Cannizaro said. “We had too many 3-2 counts. We need contact earlier in at-bats. We had a chance early with the bases loaded and crushed a ball but didn’t get anything out of it. It was a tough night. We didn’t do enough to be competitive.”