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Rebels crush Jacksonville State to advance

OXFORD — The 2019 Oxford Regional came to a close in the same way it started, with Ole Miss hitting quite a few home runs and abusing Jacksonville State in the process. They’re on to their first Super Regional since 2014.

“I’m just really proud of the team and how way we played this weekend,” said junior Thomas Dillard. “We came out and took care of business and I think we played as well as we could … it’s a great feeling knowing we got another weekend verses Arkansas. It’s going to be a fun series but I’m proud of the boys and exited to see what’s coming.”

Ole Miss beat the Gamecocks 19-4 Sunday, a literal nightcap on a weekend of baseball that couldn’t have been played more perfectly for the Rebels.

Home runs were a big part of the Ole Miss success in the Oxford Regional.

Sunday, it was Thomas Dillard hitting two homers Sunday, pushing his weekend total to three. Ole Miss hit nine home runs total on the weekend.

Dillard’s home run in the fourth inning was a grand slam, pushing the Ole Miss lead to 12-2 at the time.

“There was no mechanical adjustment I just took off the batting gloves,” Dillard said. “I wasn’t swinging it too well (before this series). I was getting some hits but not a lot of power. The last at-bat versus Jacksonville State on Friday I took off the batting gloves and hit a home run. I took them off from there on and I guess it helped me out a little bit.”

As much as the night was about Dillard, and his seven runs batted in, it was also about the Rebels’ patience at the plate. In total, the Rebels drew a total of 15 walks.

Anthony Servideo, who had a home run on the evening, drew four walks, tying an Ole Miss single-game record. It’s those walks that helped the Rebels amass 35 base runners, leading to 16 runs batted in on the night.

Having used just two pitchers apiece in each of the first two games of the regional, nearly every bullpen arm was available to Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco Sunday. They didn’t need half of them. Ole Miss got 5 and a third innings from Gunnar Hoglund, who gave up just one earned run on five hits before being replaced by Houston Roth in the sixth.

Ole Miss needed to play just three games in the regional, winning all three, to advance to the Super Regionals. They beat this same Jacksonville State team 16-2 on Friday night and Clemson 6-1 the night after. The 41 runs scored in the regional are the most in program history.

“We just played really well this weekend. That’s it in a nutshell,” Bianco said. “In all phases, from pitching to defense, I don’t think we made an error all weekend. In three games we gave up seven or eight runs and we scored a ton of runs. I’m just proud of the way our guys competed.”

The Rebels will next travel to Arkansas for the Super Regional, the sixth in program’s history.

The Rebels are 3-2 against No. 5 national seed Arkansas this year. The Razorbacks were the only team this year to win a series in Fayetteville.

 

Story by Nathanael Gabler, The Oxford Eagle