Gunnar Hoglund continued the trend of strong Rebel pitching on Saturday as Ole Miss picked up a series win over Xavier with a 9-0 victory.
After Dough Nikhazy, Drew McDaniel and Jackson Kimbrell threw a combined no-hitter on Friday, Hoglund had a career day in strikeouts on Saturday, recording 12 in the contest. His previous career-high was eight, coming twice in 2019, once against Alabama and once against Kentucky.
Hoglund pitched six complete innings on Saturday, a mark he didn’t reach until his 10th start last season. Hoglund attributes part of his early-season success to the addition of a slider to his pitch arsenal over the offseason, a pitch that paid dividends on Saturday.
“By inning three on, I was really able to use that pitch, and it really worked well for me today,” Hoglund said. “Having three pitches that I can throw at any time anywhere in the count, I think that’s huge in college baseball.”
Hoglund also admits that he is tougher mentally so far this season than he was a year ago, something that has been evident in his control and approach on the mound.
“Doug [Nikhazy] told me yesterday, ‘Just go out and attack,’ and that’s what I did,” Hoglund said. “I just went out there and tried to give my team the best chance to win.”
The Ole Miss offense lived by the longball on the afternoon, hitting two two-run home runs in the game, one by Cael Baker and one coming from Hayden Dunhurst, and a three-run bomb to center field by Anthony Servideo. Servideo’s career high for home runs in a season was three entering 2020, and he already has three so far this season. Ole Miss also got a lift from Justin Bench who hit a pinch-hit single in the eighth to drive home two runs and break the game open.
While pleased with his offense’s performance as a whole, Bianco made special mention of Bench’s late-game base knock that put the game out of reach.
“The timely hit is the most important one,” Bianco said.
After his dominating performance on the mound, Hoglund was relieved by Austin Miller and Cole Baker. Combined with Hoglund’s strikeouts, Rebel pitchers totaled 18 strikeouts on the day, the most since February 21, 2017 against Arkansas State.
Miller retired all six batters he faced, five via the punchout.
“You can’t be any more dominant than [Miller],” Bianco said. “Five strikeouts and facing six hitters. Just super dominant.”
Bianco also bragged on Cole Baker who saw his first collegiate action on Saturday. This weekend, Ole Miss has utilized three arms in relief who were seeing their first game action as a Rebel, and Bianco stressed the importance that these young arms play in the depth of his bullpen moving forward.
“In the last two games, [we’ve thrown] three guys that haven’t been out there, and they all look like they belong,” Bianco said. “That’s big for us when you talk about depth and being able to get through some weeks, and so it was nice to see [Baker] push today.”
So far this weekend, Ole Miss has outscored Xavier 22-0 and outhit the Musketeers 16-2. The Rebel pitchers have also racked up 29 strikeouts.
Ole Miss will look to continue this dominance as it goes for the series sweep over Xavier on Sunday at Swayze Field. First pitch is scheduled for noon.