Offense stays hot as baseball rolls to series win over High Point

Published 2:23 pm Monday, February 26, 2024

By Jeff Roberson

Ole Miss Athletics

Ole Miss unleashed a barrage of offense in its baseball series finale with High Point University on Sunday and came away victorious 25-2.

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The Rebels (4-4) won the final two games of the three-game series after a Friday night loss. In the Sunday game, Ole Miss had 16 hits, including five home runs. High Point used seven different pitchers on Swayze Field in the contest but couldn’t slow down the Rebels on this day.

Right-hander Grayson Saunier got Ole Miss off on the right foot in the top of the first inning with quick work of three Panther batters. In the bottom of the first, the homestanding Rebels scored 11 runs, which would be plenty for the victory on this day.

Ethan Groff set the tone offensively with a leadoff solo home run. Andrew Fischer doubled and walks by Ethan Lege and Jackson Ross set the table for Will Furniss. The Rebel sophomore sent one out of Oxford-University Stadium in center field, much to the delight of a sun-splashed home crowd on an unusually warm February afternoon. It was 5-0 Ole Miss with much more to come.

Reagan Burford homered in the first to also drive in Luke Hill who had reached on a single. That made it 7-0. With the score 8-0 after a fly out to center by Ethan Lege got Campbell Smithwick home after he reached on a walk, Jackson Ross homered to left to also score Groff, who had singled, and Fischer, who had walked. It was 11-0.

After Saunier allowed a leadoff walk in the top of the second but got three consecutive outs after that, Ole Miss added four more runs in the bottom of the second. Groff doubled to score Burford who was hit by a pitch. Fischer homered to score Groff and Smithwick, the latter who had reached by walk. It was 15-0.

High Point got a run in the top of the third, and Ole Miss added seven in the bottom of the third for a 22-1 advantage. In the fourth, Trenton Lyons doubled to score Judd Utermark who had walked. Brayden Randle followed that with a base hit to score Ross, who had reached on a single. A Treyson Hughes fly out to right scored Lyons. It was 25-1.

The Panthers added their other run in the top of the sixth, and the scoring was done for the day in this game shortened by 10-run rule to seven innings.

Saunier (1-1) got the win for the Rebels, while HPU starter Howell Polk (0-2) got the loss.
In addition to Saunier, who went four innings with one earned run on three hits with five strikeouts and two walks, Ole Miss sent three other pitchers to the mound. Left-hander Liam Doyle went one inning (one hit, two strikeouts), left-hander Austin Simmons went one inning (one earned run, one strikeout, two hits), and right-hander Connor Spencer (three strikeouts, one walk).

Leading the offensive attack statistically for Ole Miss were Groff (3-for-4, a walk, two RBI, two runs scored), Fischer (3-for-3, a walk, four RBI, four runs scored), Furniss (1-for-2, two walks, five RBI, two runs scored), Utermark (1-for-2, a walk, two RBI, two runs scored), and Ross (2-for-2, 3 walks, three RBI, three runs scored), Burford (1-for-2, two walks, two RBI, three runs scored, and Smithwick (three walks, one RBI, three runs scored).

Ole Miss hosts Little Rock Tuesday at 4 p.m., the first of two midweek games at home. On Wednesday at 4 p.m., Missouri State comes to Oxford.