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Ole Miss defeats Charleston Southern, 9-3, in Opening-Day Victory

Ole Miss defeats Charleston Southern, 9-3, in Opening-Day Victory

Oxford, Miss.Opening Day — two words that signal a new beginning in any sport.  However, in baseball it just feels different.  It’s a renewal of sorts, a clean slate, where everyone starts 0-0. It’s a day that for some means the beginning of spring. 

For the Ole Miss Rebel baseball team, Friday marked the beginning of a journey for a talented and veteran lineup and a pitching staff that head Coach Mike Bianco describes as deep.  

The Rebels have finished the last two post-seasons just one game shy of the most coveted tournament invitation in college baseball, a trip to Omaha for the College World Series.

Bianco, Ole Miss’ 21-year veteran skipper, awarded the coveted Friday night starting role to junior Derek Diamond. Last season, Diamond started 14 games — second only to Rebel ace Doug Nikhazy. 

The Californian looked to kick start the Rebels and he did not disappoint.  Facing the minimum nine batters through three innings, Diamond ran into a bit of trouble in the fourth, but limited the damage to two runs as he left runners on second and third while notching a key strike-out to end the inning.  

In his last inning of work in the fifth, Diamond retired Charleston Southern batters in one-two-three fashion.  

“Felt good. Opening day, get the starting nod, definitely some juice coming out. Definitely some room to improve. It’s day one, we got a great year,” Diamond said postgame.

Second baseman Peyton Chatagnier praised his starting pitcher’s performance. “Derek looks great,” he said. “He had that one slip up. Other than that, he pitched lights out,” Chatagnier added.

Coach Bianco concurred on his ace’s performance. “I thought he was good, especially early . . . tough day to pitch,” quipped the Rebel skipper.

A hot start

Ole Miss scored early and often in the first four innings.  A “small ball” run was plated in the first when Peyton Chatagnier walked in the leadoff spot, showed his speed and stole second, advanced to third on a Justin Bench grounder to second, and scored on a Jacob Gonzalez grounder to first.

The second inning saw the Rebels triple their run production from the first. Kevin Graham advanced his nation-leading on-base streak to 61 games when he was hit by a pitch to begin the inning.  TJ McCants was also victimized by an errant pitch. Kemp Alderman then showed great plate discipline and took a full-count walk to load the bases.  

Reagan Burford recorded his first RBI as Rebel on a sacrifice fly to left field that scored Graham. Chatagnier then legged out an infield single to score McCants.  Justin Bench then scored Alderman on a single to right field.

The Rebels led CSU, 4-0, after two complete.

Ole Miss scored two more runs in the Rebel third. The Captain, Tim Elko, walked to lead off the inning.  A McCants single saw Elko demonstrate a very healthy ACL as he went from first to third, then score on a CSU balk.  

Erratic pitching from the Bucs allowed two more Rebels to reach base via hit by pitch, including Alderman and Hayden Dunhurst. Burford recorded his second RBI sac fly, scoring McCants.  

After three innings, Ole Miss led Charleston Southern 6-0.

Then, for the fourth inning in a row, the Rebel lead-off man reached base as Justin Bench singled up the middle to start things off in the bottom of the fourth. Jacob Gonzalez singled, scoring Bench and giving Ole Miss a 7-2 lead.

Gonzalez would then score on a McCants infield single, and Ole Miss led 8-2.

The scoring for Ole Miss would end in the sixth when the most entertaining hitter in the Rebel line-up led off the inning.  

After 16 home runs in 2021, the Captain gave fans what they were waiting for.

He’s special. I’m just glad he’s on our team and wears our uniform.

Head coach Mike Bianco on Tim Elko

Bullpen Shines

The bullpen for Ole Miss would stand up strong. Transfer Jack Washburn came in after Diamond, throwing one inning and allowing no runs and no hits.  

Mitch Murrell would take the mound next, going two innings. He was charged with a run, but allowed just one hit and recording four strikeouts.  

Freshman Mason Nichols pitched the last inning for the Red and Blue yielding one lone hit.

DeadSoxy Game Ball

The DeadSoxy Game Ball goes to Ole Miss pitcher Derek Diamond. HIs performance was solid — especially considering the cold, game-time temperature and the excitement of opening day.  

With eight strikeouts in five innings, the junior earned the win. He gave up just two runs on two hits with two walks.  

Congrats to Derek Diamond, our recipient of the inaugural DeadSoxy.com Game Ball.

Next Up

The Rebels continue their weekend series against Charleston Southern Saturday at 1:30 p.m.  Texas A&M Corpus Christi transfer John Gaddis will start for Ole Miss.

Chris Muller
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 25 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.

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 25 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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