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No. 16 Diamond Rebels shut out Jackson State

Austin McAfee / The Daily Mississippian

Ole Miss outclassed Jackson State from the very first pitch last night as the No. 16 Diamond Rebels (18-7, 3-3 SEC) slugged their way to a 12-0 win against the Tigers (16-7).

The Rebels jumped out to an early 4-0 lead in the first inning, and it all started with two outs. Junior second baseman Alex Yarbrough doubled before senior first baseman Matt Snyder drove him home. Then a walk set up a three-run home run from senior designated hitter Zach Kirksey, his ninth of the season.

“We played real well tonight,” head coach Mike Bianco said. “We got off to a fast start on Kirksey’s home run. I was proud that we kept it clean. We played pretty good defense, and we had a lot of good nights offensively.”

In the second, Ole Miss added another run on a RBI single from junior left fielder Tanner Mathis to score freshman center fielder Will Jamison, who reached base on a double.

Jamison had his best outing of his young career, going 2-for-3 with a double and a triple.

“He’s made the most of all his opportunities, especially in the last week or so,” Bianco said of Jamison. “He had a couple of hits at Alabama and a diving catch in the outfield. He’s playing really well.”

As a pitching staff, the Rebels only gave up three hits on the night. Freshman right-hander Chris Ellis got his first start of his career last night and he responded by throwing 4.0 innings, giving up just a hit and a walk, while striking out six to earn his first career win on a predetermined start.

“I’m proud of Chris in his first college start,” Bianco said. “I think he was a little adrenalized at the beginning. He was having trouble getting his breaking ball over. (Jackson State) is aggressive, and he was able to kind of fight through the first two innings with his fastball. It was pretty alive. After that, he had all his pitches.”

Ole Miss scored two more runs in each the fourth on RBI singles from Mathis and sophomore shortstop Austin Anderson before plating another two runs in the sixth inning on an error and a RBI groundout from Snyder. Mathis finished the game 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI.

Junior third baseman John Gatlin got in on the action as well, getting an RBI single of his own in the eighth. On the very next pitch, sophomore Preston Overbey, who played both right field and first base, singled to score the last two runs of the evening. Overbey was 2-for-4 on the day with two RBI.

Once Ellis left the game, five Rebel pitchers got some time on the mound. Junior right-handers Blair Wright and Tanner Bailey as well as freshman right-handers Hawtin Buchanan and Sam Smith and senior left-hander Jon Andy Scott pitched scoreless innings in relief.

“It doesn’t happen often,” Bianco said of getting to pitch a lot of guys. “The good thing is not only did we get a lot of them in, but they pitched well. They all threw the ball to the strike zone, and that’s what you need.”

Next, the Rebels will host the top-ranked Florida Gators in a three-game series beginning on Friday at 6:30 p.m.