Rebels top UT Martin in School Day game

Published 12:00 pm Wednesday, March 23, 2016

In front a raucous crowd of about 6,000 screaming school kids, the Ole Miss baseball team pulled out an 8-2 win over UT Martin in the annual School Day game Tuesday afternoon at Oxford-University Stadium.

After having their 12-game winning streak snapped by Tennessee on Friday, the No. 7 Rebels have won three straight

“I’ve had a lot of proud moments here, this is one of those proud moments,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said of the yearly event. “You walk out here at 11 a.m. on Tuesday and see, I don’t know, 6-7,000 kids having a great time. One of the really cool things about it is that maybe 85-90 percent, maybe more, have never been here. Never been to this stadium or maybe even this campus. What an amazing experience for those kids.”

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The offense was not there early for Ole Miss (20-2), which scored eight runs with six hits, with four of those runs coming in the Rebels’ last at-bat of the day.

Colby Bortles, Tate Blackman and Cameron Dishon hit home runs with Blackman and Dishon’s both being two-run shots in the second and eighth innings, respectively. Bortles’ was a solo home run in the fifth.

The rest of the offense was anemic, hitting a combined 7-for-30 with two strikeouts but was patient enough to draw five walks. After Blackman’s home run, Dishon followed with an RBI single up the middle to score left fielder Ryan Olenek. It completed a 3-2 comeback after falling behind 2-0 off a two-run home run by UT Martin designated hitter Austin Taylor in the top of the first.

“It was definitely a good swing,” Blackman said of his home run. “I always give credit to the wind and the wind got most of it. …We kind of struggled at the beginning but then strung some hits together, some good (at-bats) and got our offense going. Our pitching staff was amazing today.”

Freshman James McArthur picked up his third straight win with a solid performance after starting out shaky. The right-hander gave up four hits but only allowed the two runs off the Taylor home run. He struck out a career-high seven and issued one walk in five innings.

Connor Green worked 2.1 innings of work while Dallas Woolfork and Andrew Lowe closed things out, working the final 1.2 innings. The bullpen continued its strong start to the season, not allowing a run in four innings of relief.

Green worked out of trouble multiple times as the Skyhawks (7-14) put the tying or even go-ahead run at the plate during the middle stages of the game only to have the freshman turn them away and preserve a close lead until the Rebels broke it open late.

“Today was freshman day on the mound,” Bianco said. “Those guys have pitched and had lot of success. Connor Green was awesome today to come in and kind of give us that kind of performance in still a very tight game with the wind blowing out.”

After a quick trip out of league play, Ole Miss has a quick turnaround and re-enters its Southeastern Conference slate, hosting a three-game series against No. 18 South Carolina on Thursday at 6:30 p.m.