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OXFORD — The Ole Miss baseball team routed its way to the winners' bracket.
Behind a dominant starting pitching performance and a never-quitting offensive showing that included 10 two-out hits and batting 13-for-18 with runners on base,No. 12 Ole Miss defeated Jacksonville State 16-2 on Friday night. With the win, Ole Miss (38-25) advances into the winners' bracket of the Oxford Regional to face Clemson on Saturday, needing two more wins to advance to Super Regionals for the first time since 2014.
Junior right-handed starting pitcher Will Ethridge was excellent for Ole Miss Friday night, allowing two runs on three hits across seven innings of work. After allowing a double to the first batter of the game, Ethridge retired the next 20 batters he faced, striking out three batters and inducing nine groundouts over the stretch.
Friday marked the fifth time in Ethridge's last six starts that the junior completed at least seven innings. Over this stretch, including one relief appearance, Ethridge has logged an ERA of 3.30.
Jacksonville State right-handed pitcher Garrett Farmer came into Friday as one of the most productive and dangerous pitchers available in the Oxford Regional. But the Rebels battered the Gamecocks' starter, tagging him for 10 runs, five earned, on eight hits with four walks across 4.2 innings pitched. Counted among those eight hits were two, two-run home runs, one by third baseman Tyler Keenan in the third inning and another by right fielder Anthony Servideo in the fifth inning.
Ole Miss pushed five runners across in the fifth inning, chasing Farmer after sixstraight runners reached base following a two-out fielding error by Jacksonville State second baseman Devin Brown. After the error, Ole Miss recorded back-to-back-to-back-to-back hits, including the Servideo home run and a two-RBI double from designated hitter Kevin Graham.
The Rebels tacked on five more runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, also all with two outs. Left fielder Thomas Dillard had the biggest hit, ripping a two-run home run into right field, his 11th long ball of the year and his first at Swayze Field since March 20 against Arkansas Pine Bluff.
Coming off its 11-10 loss in the SEC Tournament final, Ole Miss scored double-digit runs in back-to-back games for the first time since the Rebels did so four-straight times in April against Florida and Southern Miss. The Rebels' 15 runs are the most scored by an Ole Miss team in the postseason since 2007.
The Rebels will return to action on Saturday at 6 p.m. in the winners' bracket of the Oxford Regional versus third-seeded Clemson. The Tigers defeated Illinois 8-4 on Friday in the first game of the Oxford Regional. Ole Miss is expected to throw freshman left-hander Doug Nikhazy.
Contact Nick Suss at 601-408-2674 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @nicksuss on Twitter.