Ole Miss routs Long Beach State to take series

Published 5:25 pm Sunday, March 4, 2018

Ole Miss eventually left no doubt in winning its third straight weekend series.

The ninth-ranked Rebels scored 11 runs in their final five at-bats Sunday against Long Beach State, cruising to a 12-1 win at Blair Field to clinch the series. The teams split their first two games Saturday with the Dirtbags handing Ole Miss its first loss before the Rebels answered with a 4-3 win in the nightcap of a doubleheader.

Ole Miss (10-1) led 1-0 after four innings Sunday before using a five-run fifth to take control. Will Golsan had a two-run, bases-loaded single while Grae Kessinger and Cole Zabowski each had RBI singles in the frame. Ryan Olenek and Nick Fortes each drove in a run in the sixth before Chase Cockrell belted a two-run homer in the seventh — his second this season — to put the Rebels up double digits before Long Beach State (4-8) pushed across its only run.

Kessinger added an RBI double in the ninth as the Rebels pounded out 14 hits against five Dirtbag pitchers. Kessinger went 3-for-4 and scored two runs while Fortes, catcher Cooper Johnson and third baseman Tyler Keenan also had two hits apiece. Olenek finished with two RBIs.

Coming off what Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco called perhaps his best outing last week against Tulane, junior James McArthur (1-0) kept Long Beach State scoreless through five innings to pick up his first win. The right-hander worked around three walks, including free passes to start the third and fourth innings, and scattered two hits while striking out five. The Dirtbags’ biggest threat against McArthur came in the fourth when Tristan Mercadel’s single put two on with one out, but he got a fielder’s choice and a lineout to wiggle out of trouble.

The outing lowered McArthur’s earned run average to 0.59 through his first three starts. Tyler Radcliffe (0-1) drew his first start for Long Beach State and took the loss after lasting just two innings.

The Dirtbags avoided the shutout with Antonio Torres’ RBI single off Greer Holston in the seventh, but Max Cioffi came on to get a double play and a groundout before working a scoreless eighth. Right-hander Connor Green gave up three hits but left the bases loaded in the ninth in his first appearance of the season.

Ole Miss will return to Oxford-University Stadium on Tuesday against Austin Peay to start a five-game homestand. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m.