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Rebels rally to win in extra innings, defeat Georgia 8-5 in 11 to clinch series

Rebels rally to win in extra innings, defeat Georgia 8-5 in 11 to clinch series

ATHENS, Georgia – Following a victory Thursday night in game one against Georgia, Ole Miss looked to secure its fifth SEC series of the year Friday in Athens.

Nine innings would not be enough to decide it as the Rebels spotted Georgia early runs and had to bounce back from a 5-1 deficit in the eighth inning. Ole Miss did just that, tying it in the eighth to send it to extra innings — the Diamond Rebs’ first extra-innings game of the year — where they defeated the Bulldogs, 8-5 to clinch the series.

On a beautiful evening at Foley Field, the home run was again the Rebels’ friend.  Shortstop Jacob Gonzalez took the first pitch he saw over the right field wall to start the scoring for Ole Miss in the fourth.

Other than that, the Georgia pitchers held the Rebels off the scoreboard . . . until the eighth.

Justin Bench and Gonzalez contributed back-to-back, one-out singles.  Kevin Graham then powered his team-leading 12th home run to right, scoring Bench and Gonzalez to pull the Rebels within a run. Graham would end the day with 4 RBIs.

With a new pitcher into game and the bases clear, it was a reasonable thought that senior captain Tim Elko might be walked, either intentionally or unintentionally.  Not so.  Georgia opted to pitch to Elko — and that would quickly prove to be a mistake.

Elko blasted a towering shot to left field deep into the trees to tie the game at five.

Ole Miss on the mound

Starter sophomore Derek Diamond was effective, allowing just three runs while he was on the mound. Between the third, fourth, and fifth innings, Diamond retired eight consecutive Georgia batters. He left the game in the sixth, having given up six hits on two walks and recording four strike outs.

Bianco was asked about the difference in Diamond’s pitching from early in the game to the middle innings. “Derek is probably the best athlete, or one of best the athletes on the pitching staff…” Bianco began. “We tried to speed him up a little bit. (He) threw more strikes; I think he pitched better.  It was a small adjustment but I think it was effective for him.”

Jackson Kimbrell relieved Diamond, going two innings against the Bulldogs. He gave way to Brandon Johnson who held the Dawgs down in the eighth, ninth, and tenth to give the Rebels a chance in the eleventh.

Bianco, who described Johnson as “super dominant,” complimented his pitcher’s fastball command and his wipe-out slider.

“He’s really believing in himself, pitching with a lot of confidence,” Bianco explained. “Three outings in a row now, just terrific. You can’t pitch better than he’s pitched.”

Extra-innings offense

In the eleventh, the Rebels pieced together four singles, three of those with two outs, along with an intentional walk to score three runs.

All of the Ole Miss runs in the inning came with two outs. Hayden Dunhurst, T.J. McCants, Gonzalez, and Kevin Graham all hit their singles to the left side, with McCants, Gonzalez and Graham each recording an RBI to take the lead and provide insurance runs.

Those Broadway Nights

Taylor Broadway shut down Georgia 1-2-3 in the bottom of the eleventh to record his SEC-leading 12thsave of 2021. He is now tied for second in the record books in season saves with Dallas Woolfolk (2017) and Brett Huber (2010, 2013).  With his next save, he would be tied with Stephen Head (2003) at 13.

With the Rebels 18th SEC win and 38th victory overall, The Rebel Walk is confident there will be postseason baseball at Swayze Field.

What’s Next for Ole Miss?

The Rebels conclude their regular season in the series finale against Georgia at 1 p.m. Saturday from Foley Field.  Ole Miss will throw sophomore Drew McDaniel (4-0, 5.23 ERA, 55 K, 16 BB). The Bulldogs’ starter has yet to be announced.

(Feature image courtesy Ole Miss Baseball)

About The Author

Chris Muller

Chris is our Director of Baseball Content and Senior Baseball Writer. Muller is a 1995 Graduate of Ole Miss. He is a collegiate recreational sports professional currently residing in Arlington Texas with his wife of 24 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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