No. 3 Ole Miss Sweeps in Back-to-Back Series to Start SEC Play
We’re two weeks into SEC play, and the No. 3 Rebels are off to their best start since 1969. After two straight sweeps, Ole Miss goes for another against No. 15 Florida.
OXFORD, Miss. — The last time Ole Miss started 6-0 in SEC play was in 1969 when a player by the name of Archie Manning was playing shortstop for the Rebels. After sweeping Auburn in Oxford on opening weekend and No. 23 Alabama in Tuscaloosa this weekend, the Rebels are poised for their biggest test yet — a trip to Gainesville and a three-game series with the No. 15 Florida Gators.
With inclement weather on the horizon, the Rebels and Tide lined up for a double-header on Friday afternoon, with game three coming on Saturday.
Gunnar Hoglund was on the mound for game one, and with the exception of three solo home runs was as sharp as he has been all season. He pitched six innings, giving up six hits, three runs, and striking out 10. It was his fifth time in sixth starts this season where he recorded 10+ strikeouts.
Hayden Dunhurst homered in the 2nd inning, and then the Rebel offense went silent until a raucous 9th inning that produced eight Ole Miss runs.
Peyton Chatagnier tied the game at 3-3 in the 9th with a two-run home run. Captain Tim Elko then added an RBI double to make it 4-3. Then Dunhurst came back up, driving in two more with a single, making it 6-3. Hayden Leatherwood followed with a two-RBI double, pushing the Rebels’ lead to 8-3. T.J. McCants added the last run on a fielder’s choice RBI.
Alabama hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the 9th, making it a 9-6 game, but Taylor Broadway came in and shut the door like he has done so well the last few weeks, giving Ole Miss a 9-6 win in game one.
In his first start in three weeks, Doug Nikhazy looked strong on the mound, pitching five shutout innings, only allowing one hit, and striking out seven.
Good to have you back, buddy.
Drew McDaniel, who we’ve seen pitch in Nikhazy’s place the last few weeks, followed up Doug in relief with three shutout innings of his own. And once again, Taylor Broadway snags a save, his fifth in seven in days.
The Rebels only notched six hits in game two; however, T.J. McCants homered in the fifth inning, giving Ole Miss the only run that mattered. They would go on to win 2-0.
Ole Miss came back on Saturday, with the series already in hand, looking to complete the Iron Bowl sweep. Derek Diamond threw a very solid game, giving the Rebels exactly what they needed. He pitched six innings, allowing six hits, three runs, and striking out six.
Tim Elko was the story of Saturday, as he notched four hits, two runs, and five RBI. His three-RBI double in the 5th got the Rebels on the board and gave them a 3-1 lead.
Then a big sixth inning blew the game wide open for Ole Miss. McCants smacked an RBI single, then John Rhys Plumlee added another with an RBI double. Justin Bench followed that up in the next at bat with an RBI single of his own. That three-run sixth inning gave the Rebels a 7-3 lead.
After another RBI from Plumlee in the seventh, Tim Elko bashed his ninth home run of the year, stretching the lead to 10-3.
Ole Miss would go on to win 11-6, sweeping another SEC series, giving them the best SEC record through two weekends.
OFF THE SCOREBOARD!
💻 https://t.co/wwjL3KrTJz@TimElko pic.twitter.com/EyRThUObJo
— Ole Miss Baseball (@OleMissBSB) March 27, 2021
With two straight sweeps under their belts, head coach Mike Bianco and his Rebels will head to Gainesville this week for a Thursday, Friday, Saturday series with No. 15 Florida.
Florida was sitting pretty at No. 5 over the weekend, but after dropping all three in Columbia to South Carolina, the Gators dropped 10 spots in the rankings. With that sweep, No. 25 South Carolina jumped 11 spots and the Gamecocks are currently sitting at No. 14.
This is where the season gets good.
This weekend, the Rebels face No. 15 Florida. Next weekend, No. 2 Arkansas comes to Swayze Field. The following weekend, the Rebels head to Dudy Noble Field for a series with No. 8 Mississippi State — who just got swept by Arkansas.
I don’t want to look too far ahead, but after State, it’s LSU, No. 14 South Carolina, Texas A&M, and No. 1 Vanderbilt.
Gotta love the SEC…
Just an absurd thought:
1. Plays Ole Miss 5/14-16
2. Plays Ole Miss 4/9-11
3. Plays Ole Miss 4/16-18
4. Is Ole Miss
5. Plays Ole Miss 4/1-3
6. Lost to Ole Miss 2/21
7. Lost to Ole Miss last year
8. Lost to Ole Miss last year
9. Lost to Ole Miss 2/22
10. Is very far away https://t.co/ng6oCkdgRs
— Nick Suss (@nicksuss) March 22, 2021
Ole Miss is firing on all cylinders at the moment, and while the games haven’t all been pretty, the Rebels are 6-0 in SEC play with the three biggest weekends of the season coming in succession.
Tim Elko is seeing beach balls at the plate; Gunnar Hoglund looks like a Cy Young winner, T.J. McCants is becoming a household name, and the list goes on and on.
The Rebels are rolling, and it couldn’t be at a better time.
Before Florida, Ole Miss takes on North Alabama on Tuesday at Swayze Field at 4 P.M.
(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)
Jake, a 2021 graduate of Ole Miss with a degree in Integrated Marketing and Communications, is from Nashville, TN. Along with his work at The Rebel Walk, Jake hosts “The Flagship Football Show” podcast. He’s also a huge fan of the Rebels, Titans, Predators, and Braves.