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Ole Miss Defeats Auburn, 19-11, for Series Sweep of Tigers

Ole Miss Defeats Auburn, 19-11, for Series Sweep of Tigers

OXFORD, Miss. – Ole Miss looked to complete the SEC opening-weekend sweep of Auburn on Sunday after one-run victories Friday (1-0) and Saturday (6-5) over the Tigers. The Rebels did so in explosive fashion in Game Three, defeating Auburn 19-11.

On another beautiful day in Oxford, the Rebels posted huge innings early as they surged out to a 14-0 lead by the bottom of the sixth. They hung on to get the sweep after the Tigers bounced back to score nine on the Rebel relievers in the 8th inning.

Head coach Mike Bianco’s team improves to 16-4 on the season and 3-0 in conference play. Sunday’s win is Ole Miss’ 12th-straight victory at home over the Tigers, and it gives the Rebels their first opening-weekend sweep since 2004 over Vanderbilt.

Ole Miss scored its runs in the second, fourth, sixth and eighth innings, en route to posting seven runs in the second, three in the fourth, four in the sixth, and five in the eighth.

Second-inning surge

The scoring began for the Rebels in the second inning when former National and SEC Player of the Week Tim Elko scored on a bases-loaded infield single to the second baseman from Hayden Leatherwood.

A Calvin Harris walk scored catcher Hayden Dunhurst. Following a strike out, Ole Miss sophomore second baseman Peyton Chatagnier doubled off the left field wall to plate Leatherwood and Justin Bench.

Jacob Gonzalez followed Chatagnier with a two-run single that scored Harris and Chatagnier.  Gonzalez advanced to third on a Kevin Graham double and scored on an Elko sacrifice to the second baseman, giving Ole Miss a 7-0 lead after two innings.

Fourth-inning fireworks

T.J. McCants led off the 4th inning with the first home run of his Rebel career. He has been extremely valuable for Ole Miss, seeing action in 13 of the Rebels’ 20 games and hitting .303 thus far.

 

After McCants’ leadoff homer, Chatagnier drew a walk. Then, a fly out and a pop up brought Elko up to bat. He promptly doubled off the wall — a play in which the Auburn left fielder violently crashed into the wall at Swayze at the FedEx sign. Chatagnier scored on the play, and Elko soon scored on a Dunhurst single up the middle, giving Ole Miss a 10-0 lead after four complete.

Sixth-inning superlatives

McCants, a freshman from Cantonment, Florida, made another great play — this one coming in the outfield in the form of an  outstanding running catch in center in the top of the sixth.

In the postgame press conference, McCants was asked about making the adjustment from his infield spot to the outfield — and indicated it was not difficult.

Starting pitcher Derek Diamond, who went six innings, was quite glad to see McCants’ catch.

 “It was beautiful. He’s unbelievable. I could see him playing centerfield in the MLB somewhere.”  

Derek Diamond on McCants’ outfield catch

McCants, himself, was happy with the play. “I had a nice little standing ovation from the crowd,” he said.

The four runs in the sixth were scored from the bats of pinch hitters John Rhys Plumlee and Ben Van Cleve. The single from Plumlee plated Kevin Graham and Dunhurst, while Van Cleve’s single scored Bench and Plumlee.

Eighth-inning explosion

While the Tigers put nine runs across in the top of the eighth, the Rebels would answer back in the bottom of the frame with five runs of their own.

Ben Van Cleve registered his second hit of the day to load the bases for McCants who doubled home Bench and Plumlee. Van Cleve’s hit may be the longest single ever recorded at Swayze; it traveled an estimated 398 feet and missed being a home run by about a foot.

A Jacob Gonzalez single scored Van Cleve and McCants, and Captain Elko — who went 4 for 6 on the day — plated Gonzalez to cap off the Rebel scoring in the eighth to make it 19-9 in favor of Ole Miss.

Don’t forget Diamond

With all the runs scored by both the Tigers and Rebels, the outstanding performance by starter Derek Diamond should not be overlooked.

Diamond sizzled Sunday, allowing just four hits and one walk in six complete innings.

The native Californian showed a mid-to-high 90’s fastball, clocking 96’s and 97’s at times. With the win, Diamond improves to 2-2 on the season. Coach Bianco was definitely pleased with the performance of his Sunday starter.

 

Rebel reliever Wes Burton pitched a clean seventh inning, allowing a lone walk and striking out two Auburn hitters. If you have not watched Burton’s interview with Rob Friedman, a.k.a “Pitching Ninja,” I suggest you use your lunch break and check it out.

The full interview is around 45 minutes, and it will undoubtedly make you proud to have Wes as an Ole Miss Rebel.

While a few Rebel pitchers saw a few runs put on the board by Auburn, Josh Mallitz came in and recorded the last four outs to secure the victory for Ole Miss.

Injury and illness updates

In his postgame presser, Coach Bianco noted that pitcher Max Cioffi will throw a bullpen on Tuesday to see if he’ll be able to travel to Alabama.

Doug Nihazy threw a bullpen should be a go for Alabama. “He looked great, felt nothing in the chest area, and he’ll be fine for next weekend,” Bianco noted.

All players are expected to clear COVID protocol by Monday.

What’s Next for the Rebels?

Ole Miss hosts Central Arkansas Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. SEC play continues with the Rebels’ first road series in Tuscaloosa this coming weekend. Action begins Thursday at 6:00 p.m., followed by games on Friday at 6:00 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m.

Hotty Toddy!

(Feature image courtesy Ole Miss Baseball)

About The Author

Chris Muller

Chris Muller is a 1995 Graduate of Ole Miss. He is a collegiate recreational sports professional currently residing in Arlington Texas with his wife of 19 years, Amber, and German Shorthaired Pointer, Sophie. Chris is an avid Ole Miss Baseball and Football fan. His hobbies include watching college football and baseball and playing poker with his friends.

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