By John Davis
OXFORD – Sikes Orvis, and the SEC’s top offense, propelled the No. 1 seed Ole Miss Rebels to a 12-2 win over Jacksonville State in Game 2 of the Oxford Regional on Saturday evening. Orvis had a career night for the Rebels, driving in five of the 12 runs on three hits.
His double scored two runs in the five-run first inning that got Ole Miss (42-18) off to a great start, while his two-run homer in the sixth punctuated his night, and the night of his teammates. Ole Miss finished with 17 hits overall, the most in a game since collecting 17 in a 9-6 win over Kentucky on April 27.
The 12 runs scored by the Rebels were the most in an NCAA regional game since scoring 16 against St. John’s in the 2010 Charlottesville (Va.) Regional. A business-like approach is what Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco called the start.
“We played very well tonight and I’m proud of the way we came out. One of the goals was to be locked into this moment and play this game,” Bianco said. “One of the keys when you play at home is you want to score early and get the crowd into it. We did that in the first inning with several good at bats and none bigger than Sikes’ double that I think not only ignited us as a team, but also got the crowd into it.”
Not to be overshadowed by Orvis’ big night, Ole Miss starter Chris Ellis went the distance on the mound, saving the Rebels’ bullpen for today’s matchup with No. 2 seed Washington. Ellis finished with eight strikeouts and scattered eight hits to a JSU team that entered with a team batting average of .294.
“I thought Chris was terrific, obviously. It was something we needed with the shortened regional,” Bianco said.
Ellis gave up a run in the first inning, but then settled in to his start, in large part to the early run support.
“There really is no better feeling to see your offense put up five runs right after that,” said Ellis, who won his 10th game of the year, the fourth most in a single season at Ole Miss. “Every time I’ve given up a run, they’ve gone and put up two or three runs right after.”