Baseball Edges Auburn to Clinch SEC Series Victory
Bullpen Stymies Late Push From Tigers in 6-5 Win
OXFORD, Miss. – (Courtesy of Ole Miss Media Relations) No. 4 Ole Miss put up six runs through the game’s first three innings, which ultimately proved to be just enough as the Rebels held off Auburn for a 6-5 victory in Saturday’s game at Swayze Field. With the series win, the Rebels are now victors of their fifth consecutive SEC series opener.
Drew McDaniel (3-0) turned in a quality 5.0 innings of work in his first career SEC start and allowed just two runs before exiting the ballgame with a comfortable 6-2 lead. Auburn slowly worked its way back up from the early deficit, but stellar work from Tyler Myers and Taylor Broadway in the game’s final innings helped stifle the potential Tiger rally and ultimately hand the Rebels the one-run victory.
Offensively, freshman Calvin Harris once again proved the difference-maker, with a career-high three RBI on the day, as he opens up his SEC career with four RBI in two games. Kevin Graham led the pack with three hits, as part of a 3-for-4 day at the plate, as the lineup today combined for six runs on 10 hits and no Auburn errors.
Ole Miss and Auburn traded blows through the game’s first three frames, with the Rebels plating six combined runs while the Tigers added two of their own.
Auburn struck first in the game’s opening inning with a pair of singles, the latter of which plated the first run of the afternoon for either team. Ole Miss, however, was able to recoup that run in the bottom half after Jacob Gonzalez, who originally reached on a one-out double, scored on a balk from the Auburn pitcher.
McDaniel worked a 1-2-3 second inning, while Ole Miss used the home half to strike back and take their first lead of the afternoon. Justin Bench and Hayden Leatherwood reached on a walk and double, respectively, to open the inning before Calvin Harris doubled both runners in on a two-RBI base hit for the freshman’s second consecutive RBI hit.
In the third, the first three Tigers all reached base, including a leadoff home run to cut the Rebel lead to 3-2. Auburn put runners on the corners with nobody out, working McDaniel into a jam. The Rebel starter, however, sealed the frame with a popout and back-to-back strikeouts to escape the inning otherwise unscathed.
Ole Miss bounced right back for three more runs in the bottom of the third. Kevin Graham, Tim Elko, and Hayden Dunhurst all reached to lead off the inning and load the bases with nobody out and accounted for all three runs in the frame. Graham scored when Justin Bench was hit by a pitch with the bases full, Elko scored on a Leatherwood RBI groundout, and Dunhurst scored on a Harris sac fly.
McDaniel would work with a sizeable lead for the rest of his afternoon. He held the Rebel lead with a 1-2-3 fourth, and a quick fifth inning to cap his afternoon at 5.0 IP on 103 pitches, 73 of them strikes.
McDaniel’s exit gave way for Jackson Kimbrell’s entry to open the sixth on the mound. Kimbrell was only able to record one out before a walk and double chased the first Rebel reliever in favor of Austin Miller. By contrast, Miller was able to settle down the Tiger bats and retire two in a row to cap the damage at just one run in the frame.
Offensively, the Rebels put multiple runners aboard in each inning from the fourth to the sixth, but each frame stranded runners as they slowly watched their four-run lead dissipate down the stretch.
After their one-run sixth, Auburn bounced right back with a pair of solo homers in the seventh to cut the Rebel lead to just one run before Tyler Myers entered in the seventh and capped the damage at just two in the inning.
Myers was once again perfect in the eighth and held the tight Rebel lead through his 1.1 IP. For the ninth, however, it was once again time for Broadway to enter and slam the door shut, and the Rebel closer did just that. One Tiger reached on a two-out single, but a deep flyout closed the frame and ensured Broadway his second save in as many games, as well as the series victory for the Rebels.
No. 4 Ole Miss will go for the series sweep against Auburn tomorrow in Oxford, with a first pitch set for 1:30 p.m. CT at Swayze Field.
– Ole Miss improves to 15-4 on the year and 93-88 all-time vs. Auburn.
– The Rebels have now won four consecutive series vs. Auburn at Swayze Field and are on an 11-game win streak at home against the Tigers.
– Ole Miss also improves to 12-8 in SEC Opening Weekend series in the Mike Bianco era, and is now victors of its last five straight SEC opening series.
– Ole Miss is now 6-1 in one-run games this season.
– Drew McDaniel recorded his first career SEC start today, and earned his first career SEC victory with the quality start as well.
– Tim Elko has reached base in 14 straight games, the longest active streak for the Rebels.
– Calvin Harris recorded his first career multi-RBI game today, and set a new career best with 3 RBI on the day.
– TJ McCants notched his first career stolen base in a Rebel uniform today with a swiped bag in the seventh.
(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)