Ole Miss’ Jacob Gonzalez Responds to Leadoff Spot with Two Home Runs in Rebels’ 13-6 Win over Auburn
AUBURN, Ala. — On Thursday night in game one of the series at Auburn, Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco moved Jacob Gonzalez up in the lineup to the leadoff spot.
The 2021 D1Baseball National Freshman of the Year responded, going 2-for-4 with two home runs and two RBI as the Rebels defeated Auburn, 13-6.
Gonzalez had been batting third for the Rebels over the past few weeks. What a difference a couple of spots made for the Ole Miss shortstop.
Coach Bianco’s change in batting order paid off early in game one of SEC play as Gonzalez led off the game with a solo home run. He drove a 1-0 fastball over the right field wall to give Ole Miss an early 1-0 lead.
— Ole Miss Baseball (@OleMissBSB) March 17, 2022
Since arriving on campus, Gonzalez has had a knack for getting on base, in more than one way.
Going into Thursday night’s game, the Glendora, Calif. native was tied for the SEC lead in walks. In the top of the second against Auburn, Gonzalez took his 19th base on balls of the season, assuming the outright lead.
The production from Gonzalez didn’t stop there.
With two outs in the top of the fourth, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound sophomore sent a blast into right center field that cleared the outfield fence for a solo home run, his second of the game. That would give Ole Miss a 6-4 lead and a little breathing room.
— Ole Miss Baseball (@OleMissBSB) March 18, 2022
In the top of the sixth, Gonzalez found yet another way to reach base, this time via hit-by-pitch. Later in the sixth, he advanced to second on a wild pitch and then came around to score from second on an Auburn error, putting the Rebels ahead 9-4.
As is often the case in baseball, hitters aren’t always awarded statistically for well-hit balls. That was the case for Gonzalez in the top of the seventh when he hit a sharp line drive to right field that found the glove of the Auburn right fielder.
After the game Gonzalez was asked about his mentality at the plate when batting in the lead-off spot.
“I take my bats the same wherever I am (in the order). It doesn’t matter where I hit. When I hit first, I’m going to set the tone as best I can.”
Ole Miss shortstop Jacob Gonzalez
Coach Bianco was impressed with his shortstop’s performance against Auburn.
“Obviously he’s really good, but he was a super star tonight. He gets us going to start conference play and moved to the leadoff spot. (He had a ) big swing on the second pitch of the game and gets us on the board…Later, he gets a curveball, left-on-left, and hits it out. (He) gets an HBP and smoked a line drive to right field. (He) made some great defensive plays. Just a really really good night by Jacob.”
Coach Bianco on Gonzalez’ performance in game one
Not only was it a good night offensively for Jacob, but he was outstanding defensively as well — leading the Rebels with five assists.
At one point in the game, the broadcast announcer gave Gonzalez kudos on his play at shortstop saying: “Jacob Gonzalez, with every play, looks more and more like a big-leaguer.”
The Rebels’ series against Auburn is scheduled to continue at 6 p.m. Friday; however, rain is predicted in eastern Alabama beginning early Friday morning and throughout the day.
Derek Diamond (3-0, 3.86 ERA) is scheduled to pitch for Ole Miss as the Rebels look to secure the series, while the Tigers have not announced their pitcher for Game 2.
(Feature image credit: Ole Miss Baseball)
Nick Filipich was born and raised in Biloxi, MS. He is an Ole Miss senior majoring in Sports and Recreation Administration. A sports junkie with a great passion for all things Ole Miss, Nick played baseball and football in high school — which is where he discovered his love for sports. He is an avid Braves and Saints fan, and in his free time enjoys spending time with family, friends and his black lab, Dixie.