Weekend Recap: No. 3 Rebels drop series to No. 15 Gators
The No. 3 Ole Miss Rebels travelled to Gainesville, Florida on Thursday and faced off against the No. 15 Florida Gators.
Game One: Ole Miss 1, Florida 4
Ole Miss (21-6, 7-2 SEC) had a rough time getting out of the gate offensively in game one on Thursday.
Gunnar Hoglund (3-1) started for the Diamond Rebs and pitched 6.0 innings, allowing only two runs on four hits while striking out five on the evening.
Not totally sure what just happened in that inning, but @GunnarHoglund got two more strikeouts and Florida didn't score, so we'll take it and move on!
— Ole Miss Baseball (@OleMissBSB) April 2, 2021
The bitter cold wind, combined with some Gator antics, helped Florida take the first game when they flipped their normal starter Danny Mace for Franco Aleman.
Aleman pitched four solid innings, giving up only three hits and notching three strikeouts while allowing one run. Mace would enter the ballgame in the fifth inning and allow only one hit for the save as the Rebels dropped the opening game to Gators, 1-4.
Game Two: Ole Miss 8, Florida 2
On Friday, Florida Head Coach O’Sullivan went back to his bag of tricks by starting Christian Scott, instead of his game two ace Jack Leftwich, against hot-throwing Doug Nikhazy who was spot-on all night.
O’Sullivan’s reverse psychology was not going to have the same result on this night, though.
Scott pitched a strong 5.0 innings and allowed just two earned runs on five hits. That would all change after Jacob “Gonzo” Gonzalez mashed one over the right field fence in the eighth inning to score McCants and push the score to 4-2, Rebels.
Ole Miss freshman SS Jacob Gonzalez with another statement last night.
— Ian Smith (@FlaSmitty) April 3, 2021
In the top of the ninth, Peyton “Chatty” Chatagnier would come to the plate with Justin Bench (J.B.) on second and Cade Sammons at first — and then began one of the most bizarre plays that I have ever seen.
Chatty cranked a single to right field. The Florida right fielder played the single perfectly and gunned the ball to Florida catcher Nathan Hickey.
As Hickey looked down to see J.B. slide safely home, he stood straight up, not realizing he had lost track of Sammons who was drafting J.B. much the way stock cars race so closely over in nearby Daytona.
Unfortunately for Hickey, Sammons would slide in safely while the Gator catcher ended up facing the stars that were swirling around his head. The Rebs would end up on top 8-2.
Game Three: Ole Miss 5, Florida 6
Saturday’s beautiful weather brought with it the promise of a series victory for the Rebels. Derek “Doc” Diamond was matched up against Florida’s normal Sunday starter Hunter Barco.
The Ole Miss offense was slow to respond, however, to Florida’s offense. The Gators put up three runs to the Rebels’ zero heading into the fifth inning.
It would take Ole Miss five runs over the next three innings to get the score to within one, 6-5 in favor of the Gators. But, unfortunately, the Rebs could not push across another run in the final two innings and the game ended in a Florida victory.
The strategy by O’Sullivan, along with his team’s fear of losing another SEC series in the first three weekends of the year, was enough to propel Florida to the victory over the Rebs in this series.
Ole Miss’ hitting was cold on Thursday, but this team is showing it will fight tooth and nail to win as the bats of J.B. and Gonzo are warming up.
Make no mistake — this team will not back off the aggressive approach to batting it has adopted over the past seven weeks of play. I would look for more of that type of play as it favors our lineup from top to bottom.
Some of the Ole Miss players began receiving COVID-19 vaccinations last week as they have been made available to the players. Almost half of the roster has been given the inoculations, which means that contact tracing rules set by the NCAA will no longer be applicable to those players.
The Diamond Rebs will return to Swayze Field to take on North Alabama at 4:00 pm today, Monday, before hosting Alcorn State at 6:30 pm on Tuesday.
The Rebels will host the No. 2-ranked Razorbacks of Arkansas Friday through Sunday.
(Feature image photo courtesy of Ole Miss Baseball)