Offense sets tone in No. 11 Ole Miss’ rout of Arkansas State

Published 10:20 pm Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Jordan Fowler went more than half the distance, and Ole Miss’ offense took care of the rest.

No. 11 Ole Miss ended their first losing streak of the season with a runaway win over Arkansas State on Wednesday at Oxford-University Stadium. The Rebels scored seven runs in their first two at-bats, setting the tone for a 10-3 win to begin a four-game homestand that will continue with a series against No. 23 Georgia starting Friday at 6:30 p.m.

Thomas Dillard hit a two-run home run — his team-leading eighth of the season — and drove in three runs while Grae Kessinger also hit a two-run homer. Will Golsan went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, and Ryan Olenek had two hits for his 13th multi-hit game during his 16-game hitting streak before being pulled in the fifth after hitting a ball off his toe.

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Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said it was a precautionary move and that Olenek, who raised his average to .403, would be ready for this weekend’s series. The Rebels (30-8) finished with 11 hits.

Ole Miss scored three in the first inning and chased Arkansas State’s Zachary Patterson (0-3) with three more in the second as part of a four-run inning. The Rebels added two more in the fourth and another run in the fifth for a 10-1 lead that allowed Bianco to go to the bench early with 13 players getting at least one at-bat for the Rebels, who improved to 11-0 in the midweek.

“One of the great things about the offense is they show up every day,” Bianco said. “They’re not one of those teams where they get a ton of runs then have a couple tough games and then a ton of runs again. Every day, we seem to put innings together to give ourselves a chance to win.”

In his first start since March 27, Fowler (4-0) limited Arkansas State (12-21) to Andrew Leggo’s second-inning solo homer in five innings. The freshman left-hander scattered four other hits, struck out four and walked one in his longest outing since throwing the same number of innings March 14 against Georgia State.

“We wanted to get him some innings. Tonight he was terrific,” Bianco said. “Got a little tired there because he hadn’t been throwing like that. In the fifth, he kind of gutted it out maybe that last inning, but you can’t really fault him. He was in the strike zone. A lot of first-pitch strikes.”

Austin Miller, Connor Green, Will Stokes and Greer Holston combined for four innings of four-hit relief. Stokes, who had allowed seven runs on eight hits in his last three outings spanning just 1 1/3 innings, allowed just one hit and struck out two in 1 1/3 innings — the senior right-hander’s first scoreless outing since matching that length March 17 against Tennessee.

“Obviously I’ve struggled here the past few outings, but it was nice to come out and do what I did,” Stokes said.