Ole Miss baseball improved to 6-0 in SEC play following a sweep against Alabama this weekend. The team now sits at 20-4 overall as the Rebels prepare for a midweek matchup against North Alabama on Tuesday, March 30.
“You’re just trying to keep the blinders on and win the next game,” head coach Mike Bianco said on starting out 6-0 in league play. “When it’s over, you realize sweeps are tough and we have two of them back to back, one on the road.”
The Rebels now have their first 6-0 start since 1969, when alumnus Archie Manning played shortstop.
A great day of pitching by junior Gunnar Hoglund was the start of the successful doubleheader against the Alabama Crimson Tide. Hoglund went six innings with three runs allowed on six hits with ten strikeouts. All three of those Tide runs came on solo homers. Alabama pitching also played a successful game until the ninth inning. The Tide held the Rebels to one run that came from a right field bomb from sophomore Hayden Dunhurst in the second inning.
Other than the homer from Dunhurst, the Rebels’ offense was quiet. To start the ninth inning, freshman TJ McCants was hit by a pitch to get on base. Sophomore Peyton Chatagnier then stepped up with a huge two-run homer to tie the game up 3-3. After Jacob Gonzalez was walked and Kevin Graham singled, Tim Elko hit a double down the right field line to put the Rebels on top.
Dunhurst continued his great day of hitting with a two RBI hit to extend the lead to 6-3. Junior Justin Bench singled, despite an Alabama pitching change, and senior Hayden Leatherwood singled as well. The Rebels had a 9-3 lead at the end of the inning.
For their final at-bat, Alabama didn’t make things easy on Rebel fans. They followed the eight-run inning with a three-run home run. Pitcher Taylor Broadway then took over and ended the game with back-to-back strikeouts. Ultimately, Ole Miss won the first game 9-6.
The second game of the Ole Miss doubleheader was all about pitching. Junior pitcher Doug Nikhazy had his first SEC start of this season following a minor chest injury. Nikhazy pitched for five innings, allowing no runs on one hit with seven strikeouts and two walks. Following Nikhazy, sophomore Drew McDaniel came in to pitch three scoreless innings. To close out the game, Broadway pitched allowing one hit in the ninth.
On the offense, McCants was the first to tap into the four scoreless innings with a solo home run. In the eighth, McCants kicked things off again with a leadoff single. Bench was walked, andGraham was able to bring McCants home for a little more insurance.
With a few strikeouts from Broadway, the Rebels took the series. This is the first time that Ole Miss has started out 5-0 in league play since 1972.
Looking for the sweep, Ole Miss started sophomore Derek Diamond on the mound. Diamond pitched for six innings with six hits, three runs and six strikeouts.
Ole Miss bats continued to be hot on Sunday with 13 hits for 11 runs and no errors.
Elko now leads the SEC in RBIs with a 4-for-5 day after driving in five runs on a three-run double in the fifth inning and a two-run home run in the eighth. The home run was his ninth of the season, the second-most in the SEC.
It was a back and forth scoring battle, but ultimately, Ole Miss was able to win 11-6.
Ole Miss will take on North Alabama at home on Tuesday this week, before traveling to Gainesville against Florida for a weekend series.