Ole Miss sweeps Furman, gets first weekend shutout since 2004

Published 4:52 pm Sunday, March 12, 2017

The No. 21 Ole Miss baseball team pulled off something that had not been done since 2004 on Sunday, but the Rebels needed Michael Fitzsimmons’ help to do it. After getting his first career home run on Saturday, the sophomore pinch hit for shortstop Grae Kessinger in the eighth inning and delivered the game-winning RBI single in the Rebels’ 1-0 win over Furman at Oxford-University Stadium.

It was the third series sweep of the season for Ole Miss (11-5) and the first weekend shutout of an opponent since blanking Nicholls State March 12-14 13 years ago.

The bats were not as silent as the score might indicate with the Rebels getting nine hits from nine different batters. It was hitting into five double plays that eliminated the production at the plate all afternoon.

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“More hits and some better swings I thought, but we break that chain,” Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said. “We have two good at-bats, then we have some bad at-bats. Some of the double plays were caused because the approach wasn’t good. For whatever reason, we didn’t get a bunt down or a hit-and-run down and whatnot. Some of it was just baseball.”

Will Golsan went 1-for-4 at the plate while Ryan Olenek, Tate Blackman, Colby Bortles and Kyle Watson were all 1-for-3. Kessinger, Fitzsimmons, Cooper Johnson and Thomas Dillard accounted for the other hits.

Freshman Greer Holston earned the second start of his career and his first on the weekend for Ole Miss. In five previous appearances this season, Holston had gone 7 2/3 innings combined. On Sunday, Holston had his best outing of the season, going seven scoreless innings while giving up two hits, striking out six and walking two Furman (8-7) batters. His previous longest outing was four innings against Memphis in his first start on Feb. 28 in a losing effort.

“It felt great to come back after my first start and pitch the way I know I can,” Holston said. “It’s great to have a defense like I did today. … Location with everything was really working for me. My slider, I had trouble with it at first, but it was great to finally get control of it.”

No Ole Miss starter gave up a run all weekend and each went at least seven innings while the Rebel pitching staff as a whole held Furman to nine hits in three games, a team that was hitting .317 entering the weekend.

“That’s about as dominant as you can be on the mound to a team that can hit,” Bianco said. “(Furman) came in with some really good numbers. They have success and average about eight runs a game coming in. Our guys answered it and pitched well all weekend.”

Andy Pagnozzi and Dallas Woolfolk worked an inning each with Woolfolk earning his fourth save of the season. Woolfolk had to work out of a jam in the ninth inning with two runners in scoring position but managed to preserve the one-run lead for the Rebels.

Ole Miss will travel to the coast and play Nicholls on Tuesday at MGM Park in Biloxi. First pitch is set for 7 p.m.