Baseball season is officially back in full swing, and as we track every pitch from every game throughout the season, we can bring coverage from the press box and from right field. Every Monday, we’ll round the bases with four observations from the Rebels’ weekend series.
After an exhilarating series win over the top-ranked Louisville Cardinals last weekend and a walk-off victory over Alcorn State on Wednesday, the Rebels enjoyed a dominant series sweep against Xavier.
Ole Miss outscored the Musketeers 35-3 over the weekend and controlled every facet of the game in all three victories. Here’s what else we saw.
First Base: The starting pitchers are dealing
The weekend rotation faced stiff competition last week when Lousiville came to town, but all three starters showed positives in their appearances against the talented lineup.
Doug Nikhazy battled through five scoreless innings before putting the men that would take the lead on base. Gunnar Hoglund struck out seven in 5.1 innings to help fend off a Louisville comeback, and freshman Derek Diamond did enough to give the Rebels the chance to win in his first start.
The rotation came back out this weekend and put their foot down against that Xavier lineup.
Nikhazy came back with a vengeance on Friday and struck out nine in 6.0 innings to get the combined no-hitter along with Drew McDaniel and Jackson Kimbrell. Hoglund joined the party on Saturday and struck out 12, and Diamond got his first win as a Rebel on Sunday.
“Doug (Nikhazy) told me yesterday, ‘Just go out and attack,’ and that’s what I did,” Hoglund said after his start on Saturday. “I just went out there and tried to give my team the best chance to win.”
Their performances were exactly what you need from your starters against weaker competition before conference play begins.
Second Base: Anthony Servideo is turning into a force to be reckoned with
The junior was confident coming into the season that the shift back to shortstop and the lead-off slot in the line up would be seamless. It turns out that Servideo is absolutely thriving in his new leadership role.
He’s already surpassed his home run total from a season ago with four long balls and seems to be perpetually on base. He was the hero on Wednesday when he knocked a walk-off homer in extra innings to put down Alcorn State, and he came out this weekend to go 4-9 at the plate with two home runs, batting in five runs.
Servideo’s early-season performance, along with the emergence of Cael Baker, has to be something Ole Miss fans are excited about.
Third Base: The kids are alright
It was unclear whether freshman catcher Hayden Dunhurst’s struggles were a case of nerves or a serious cause for concern. There was no doubt that Dunhurst was a force behind the plate, but he wasn’t able to pull his weight in the batter’s box as he was unable to tally a hit in the first four games.
That concern was blown away when Dunhurst went 4-10 over the weekend. The freshman hit two home runs and accounted for eight RBIs in the three games.
“I always knew it was going to come soon,” Dunhurst said of his breakout performance. “I saw the ball really well last weekend, but my timing was a little bit off, especially in the atmosphere and having a little bit of butterflies.”
If Dunhurst can continue to produce like that consistently, he could be one of the best freshmen in the country.
Home Plate: Greer Holston continues to struggle
Possibly the most interesting story of the early season has been the struggles of Greer Holston. The senior pitcher only appeared once in 2019 after a strong sophomore campaign in 2018.
Holston was slated to be the regular midweek starter for the Rebels but failed to record an out against Alcorn State while giving up four runs on three hits. He came back on Sunday to pitch one inning and gave up two runs on two hits. He took 31 pitches to get through the inning.
If Holston doesn’t turn this around, the senior could get lost in the shuffle within the bullpen. Wes Burton will get the start for the Rebels against the University of Southern Mississippi on Tuesday.