The Rebels are off to a hot start of the spring 2021 season after sweeping three Texas teams at the State Farm College Baseball Tournament in Arlington, Texas this weekend.
The season opened against No. 10 TCU on Saturday. The team’s outlook started to look a little rough after star pitcher Doug Nikhazy walked in three runs. However, Ole Miss was able to respond after a big second inning and led the game, 4-3. The Horned Frogs couldn’t stop the Rebels after that, as Ole Miss finished the game with a score of 7-3.
While the team’s hitting was successful, the pitching ended up being the star of the show. The Rebels held TCU to seven scoreless innings.
While Ole Miss was clearly dominant in the first game, closing out the second game was slightly more difficult as the Rebels faced trouble against Texas Tech on Sunday. The Red Raiders scored first, making the score 2-0 in the second inning. To switch the momentum, Ole Miss rallied back to score five with freshman Jacob Gonzalez leading the way with a two-run homer.
Unfortunately for Rebel fans, Texas Tech started to come back late in the ninth inning. However, Rebel pitcher Braden Forsyth was able to close out the game and extend the win streak to 18.
The 5-4 win over the Texas Tech Red Raiders was enough to land Ole Miss the No. 1 ranking from Baseball America. This was the first time in program history that Ole Miss has found its way to the top slot.
On Monday night, the Rebels took on the Texas Longhorns. Sophomore pitcher Derek Diamond had a near perfect performance, striking out eight in six innings. Throughout the tournament, the depth from pitching was impressive and proved to be the difference this weekend.
“One of the challenges for this opening weekend, with the level of competition on this big stage, is there’s not a lot of chance for mulligans or do-overs,” head coach Mike Bianco said in a press conference. “Your hope is they will all pitch well. We knew we had a lot of depth.”
The Rebels scored eight runs with three triples by sophomore Peyton Chatagnier, a home run from sophomore Trey Lafleur and a triple from Gonzalez. Surprising fans and pundits alike, the Rebels handled the Longhorns easily and allowed for only one run the entire game.
“I’m proud of the way we played. We can improve,” Bianco said. “We didn’t play perfect. There are some at-bats we’d like to have back, some pitches we’d like to have back. Overall, I’m really pleased with the way we played.”
With the current No. 1 ranking and a new program record, Ole Miss will take on Arkansas State on Wednesday at 4 p.m. on Swayze Field for the first home game of the season.