Select Page

No. 19 Diamond Rebels Notch Sweep over No. 13 Gamecocks

No. 19 Diamond Rebels Notch Sweep over No. 13 Gamecocks

OXFORD, Miss. — No. 19 Ole Miss swept the No. 13 ranked Gamecocks of South Carolina at Swayze Field this weekend. After losing the prior four series, earning the sweep was important for the Rebels. Ole Miss’ pitching rotation, offense, and bullpen came together for what is arguably the best weekend performance of the 2021 season, and that is exactly what the Rebs needed.

Game One: Ole Miss 5, South Carolina 1

Gunnar Hoglund started for the Rebels and was lights out from his very first pitch. Hoglund went six innings on Friday night while he held the Gamecocks’ offense scoreless, tallying nine strikeouts in the process.

The Rebel offense came out red-hot as Hayden Dunhurst singled to right to knock in the first of two runs that would come across in the opening inning.

In the fourth, shortstop Jacob Gonzales turned a fastball back around and singled up the middle, driving in Kemp Alderman to give Ole Miss a 3-0 lead. Justin Bench would add another single to left, scoring Peyton Chatagnier and Gonzalez to push the lead to 5-0 at the end of the fourth.

Out of an abundance of caution, Coach Bianco pulled Hoglund at the end of the sixth because of the stiffness that kept the RHP out of his start against LSU.

Coach Bianco called in Derek Diamond to pitch the seventh and eighth innings. Although Diamond gave up a home run to left from Josiah Sightler, that was all the Gamecocks would score in his two innings of work. Diamond struck out five and only walked one.

As evidence of the importance of a series win, Bianco called closer Taylor Broadway to finish up the game and he answered the call with three strikeouts.

Game Two: Ole Miss 7, South Carolina 3

The second game of the series, originally scheduled for a 6:00 p.m. start on Saturday, instead began at 1:30 p.m. as the first game of a doubleheader at O-U Stadium.

Saturday was “Doug Day” as LHP Doug Nikhazy got the start. Aside from giving up a homer to Colin Burgess in the second frame, Nikhazy would allow only three runs on six hits and four walks, while striking out five in his 7.0 innings of work.

Nikhazy received the run support he needed, including home runs from Bench, Hayden Dunhurst and Gonzalez, that helped the Rebs finish with a 7-3 victory.

Game Three: Ole Miss 6, South Carolina 4

In the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader, RHP Drew McDaniel was met in the second inning with a three-run home run off the bat of South Carolina’s slugger Wes Clarke who had gone 0-for-7 in the first two games. However, McDaniel refocused and put in two additional innings of solid pitching, going 4.1 innings in the game.

The Rebel bats got warmed up, scoring two in the second, the third and the fifth to give Ole Miss the win. In the second, Hayden Leatherwood plated T.J. McCants, and Gonzalez would return the favor and plate Leatherwood as the Rebs drew closer to South Carolina, cutting the Gamecocks’ lead to 3-2.

In the third, Kevin Graham would erase the three-run homer with an opposite field two-RBI dinger of his own that put the Rebs back in front, 4-3.

In the fifth inning following McDaniel — who allowed only four runs on six hits and gave up just one walk — Jack Dougherty took the bump, and he did just what he was called into the game to do as the “stopper.” Dougherty stopped the Gamecocks from plating another run, and in 3.2 innings of work recorded three strikeouts and no walks across the 11 batters he faced.

In the bottom of the fifth, Dunhurst notched an RBI-single to left that put the Rebs up for good, 6-4. 

In the eighth inning, the team and all in attendance at Swayze had the pleasure of seeing team captain Tim Elko, who had missed fourteen games due to a torn ACL, step up to the plate to pinch hit. Hopefully we will see more at-bats from Elko the remainder of the season.

Analysis

The Rebels recorded a much-needed sweep this weekend, bouncing back from some prior bullpen woes in the process. Diamond and Dougherty continue to perform well in their roles as middle relievers, and this helps free up the offense as well.

The Ole Miss offense is potent enough to outscore any team in this league. Diamond Reb starters — especially Hoglund and Nikhazy — were spectacular on the mound this weekend as was closer Taylor Broadway. Broadway played in all three games of the series this weekend and continues to want the ball any time his team needs him. His body of work has been nothing short of stellar.

The offense kept its head down with much the same mindset it used in the game-three, come-from-behind win over LSU. The Rebs are taking their cuts and hitting very well — something they did even in the four series losses.

This team is a force to be reckoned with if it keeps its focus as it has in the last four league games. Coach Bianco also deserves applause for the way he attacked South Carolina’s offense. In the first two games, Bianco pitched “backwards,” so to speak, to offset the power the South Carolina batters have shown. Gamecock hitters were looking fastball every time, but in the first two games, Bianco only called breaking balls — regardless of who was on the mound.

In Game three, as the Gamecocks adjusted, so did Coach B. The adjustments he made for this lineup worked perfectly.

Now, it is up to the entire team to learn from the series win and use it to keep improving when they play Arkansas State Tuesday at 6:00 pm at Swayze Field before making the trip to College Station for a Friday-Saturday-Sunday series with A&M.

(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss)

About The Author

Chad Smith

Chad holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Ole Miss and stays immersed in Rebel sports and alumni affairs. As a second-generation Rebel, he loves everything that makes the university unique and appealing. While he supports every sport on campus, his primary love is Ole Miss Baseball. As a baseball scout and creator of the only group dedicated to Ole Miss Baseball, Chad enjoys focusing on the players’ and the team's success on and off the field. The unique atmosphere created by the fans, facilities and coaching staff has transformed Swayze Field into a world-class program that others only dream of having. Chad currently lives in Lula, Georgia with his wife Danielle, his German Short-Haired Pointer Renegade "Hotty Toddy," and a cat named Boudreaux.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: