Big sticks and nasty pitches, that will win games.
Ole Miss dominated the Tigers, 9-1, to take their third SEC tournament championship. The Rebels improved to 46-15 (18-12 in conference, 18-11 away from home), as they will be a surefire top-eight national seed.
Ole Miss won their share of blowouts and nail-biters on their way to a championship. Sunday, it was a blowout, especially late.
The Rebels have relied on excellent starting pitching all tournament, and they got an excellent performance, with all things considered, from their fifth starter – Houston Roth.
Roth, a native of Oxford, may have been the perfect guy to start such a game for Ole Miss, and he started the game on the mound, tossing 4 1/3 innings of one-run ball for the Rebels. He left the game in the 5th with one out and a runner on, in favor of Will Stokes.
Stokes, a senior who has seen his role diminish in 2018, delivered. After a throwing error by Nick Fortes put a runner on third, Will buckled up and retired the next two, Watson and Duplantis who are two of LSU’s best bats, in order.
Stokes day was short lived, however, as he gave way to Ryan Rolison, who started on Wednesday for Ole Miss, following a lead-off walk. An error, a pop-fly and a walk loaded the bases with one out for the Tigers. Rolison, who is projected to be a first-round pick, was laser focused, striking out the next two batters in order.
That was the final time the game would be in question. The Rebels’ bats exploded in the top of the 7th, as they plated four runs on a two-rbi single by Will Golsan and a two-run home run to dead center off the bat of Tim Rowe.
Ole Miss added two more in the 9th with a two-out, pinch-hit home run off the bat of Michael Fitzsimmons.
Greer Holston pitched the final two innings after Rolison worked two of his own. Each struck out three, walking just one and allowing no hits. Combined, the Ole Miss relievers threw 4 2/3 innings, allowing no hits and just three walks.
As for the starter Roth, he allowed five baserunners (4 hits, 1 walk) and one earned run over his 4 1/3 innings. For the tournament, five Ole Miss starters turned in a 1.28 ERA over 28 2/3 innings of work.
The Rebels’ bullpen struggled early in the tournament – they allowed 7 runs in two and a third Wednesday against Auburn and then Parker Caracci allowed three runs (one earned) against Georgia, though two of Caracci’s were due to, perhaps, the blunder of the year.
What. Just. Happened. 😱
However, the bullpen rebounded, allowing just one run (unearned) in their next three games. Dating back to the Georgia game, they allowed just two runs (one earned) in four games.
Ole Miss hit six home runs in their four wins in Hoover.
Big sticks and nasty pitching, it’ll work; it has worked all season for the Rebels, so why should Hoover have been any different?