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Ole Miss takes two from LSU Saturday as Rebels clinch the series in Baton Rouge

Ole Miss takes two from LSU Saturday as Rebels clinch the series in Baton Rouge

BATON ROUGE, La. – Ole Miss has played in 16 NCAA tourneys throughout head coach Mike Bianco’s 20 years at the helm of the Red and Blue. But heading into the final two weekends of the season with a 10-14 SEC record, the Rebels had some work to do in terms of making their case to be selected to participate in this year’s NCAA Tournament.

Coach Bianco’s team responded as Ole Miss took care of business at Alex Box Stadium, winning the first two games to take the series over the Tigers. 

Game One: Ole Miss 5, LSU 3

Severe weather in the Baton Rouge area caused an overnight delay after two and one-half innings of play in game one.

Ole Miss pitcher Dylan DeLucia pieced together a two-day, seven-plus inning gem of an outing that began Friday evening and concluded Saturday.

Click here for box score.

As with most game ones, saving the bullpen is critical. DeLucia did just that as he threw two innings Friday night and came back and held the Tigers to just one run in his final five innings on Saturday as Ole Miss beat LSU, 5-3. 

Last night (Bianco) just said if I was up to it, if I was healthy enough, it’s my game. That’s what he told me. When I woke up this morning, I just said ‘alright, I’m ready to go’ at breakfast. His confidence in me was great.

Dylan DeLucia on pitching Friday and Saturday

His was a gritty, gutty performance that left the Rebels with many bullpen arms for the final two games of the series. 

“The day after I pitch, I’m usually not sore, it’s usually the day after that,” DeLucia explained after Saturday’s game.

I felt like I was going to be loose and ready to go. I just went with that mindset. I was ready to pitch.”

DeLucia on pitching Saturday

Over the two days, DeLucia struck out nine, allowing just three hits and two walks.

Offensively, Ole Miss scored four runs before the rain delay Friday, all in the second inning, with two RBI singles from catcher Hayden Dunhurst and shortstop Jacob Gonzalez. 

Tim Elko connected in the fifth inning for the 40th home run of his Ole Miss career to add on for the Rebels.

Brandon Johnson entered the game in relief in the eighth inning. He faced the minimum and fanned four of the six LSU batters he faced.

The defensive play of the game was turned in by left fielder Kevin Graham with this web gem.

Also of note defensively was this sliding, foul-ball fly-out featuring Justin Bench.

Coach Bianco talked about Bench’s fielding acumen, and he also spoke to TJ McCants’ prowess with his glove.

He (Bench) is terrific. I’ve said it a bunch of times, he may be our best defender at any position. We love him in center, love him at second. He can play short, be our emergency catcher. Once of the reasons that we’re able to do that at third base is McCants’ improvement in the outfield. TJ has become a difference maker in center field.

Coach Bianco on Justin Bench and TJ McCants

Game 2: Ole Miss 11, LSU 1

An offensive onslaught buoyed by great pitching from freshman Hunter Elliott allowed the Rebels to cruise to victory in game two, 11-1, and lock up the series over LSU. 

Click here for box score.

Ole Miss scored early and often with two in the first and second, five in the fourth, and one in the fifth to race out to a 10-0 lead. The Rebs never looked back.

The party started early Saturday afternoon when Tim Elko pounded his 41st home run, moving him ahead of Brad Henderson on the all-time home run list for Ole Miss. The senior Captain is now tied with Matt Smith and Matt Snyder for second place all-time in program history.

Kevin Graham followed Elko with a home run of his own. It marked the sixth time this season the Rebels have gone back-to-back. 

“We’re feeling a little bit better at the plate,” said Bianco. “We’re getting better swings,” he added.

Kevin Graham, who’s really starting to heat up, makes such a difference in the lineup. You can see how in March we struggled without him. Now that he’s back, you can tell that he feeling good at the plate like today…he can always hit the fastball, but he’s getting more hits against left-handers, hits off off-speed… it makes our lineup different.”

Coach Bianco on Kevin Graham’s hitting

Hayden Dunhurst launched a two-run shot in the second that scored Peyton Chatagnier. 

The fourth inning saw five Rebels cross the plate, and it was clear the Ole Miss dugout was having fun again. 

Gonzalez singled home Chatagnier. Bench scored on a fielding error.  A Kemp Alderman double plated Elko and Gonzalez, and T.J. McCants scored Alderman with a single. 

Justin Bench blasted his third home run of the season in the fifth.

Elliott continued the trend on the mound that was started by DeLucia in game one. Elliott traveled 6 2/3 innings, giving up just one run while striking out nine. 

He’s been super specially the past couple of weeks. He continues to get better and better, in different things. Last week, the slider was a difference maker for him. Fastball was good, changeup was good, but the slider gave him some opportunities against the left-handers to get outs that he struggled with earlier in the season.

Coach Bianco on Hunter Elliot’s outing in game two

Josh Mallitz entered in the seventh, pitching the final 2 2/3, and he did not allow any runs, giving up just one hit and striking out three. He threw 38 pitches, 24 of which were strikes. 

What’s Next for Ole Miss?

The Rebels look to complete the sweep Sunday at 1:00 p.m. at Alex Box Stadium.  Derek Diamond (4-4, 6.17 ERA, team-high 54.0 innings pitched) will start for Ole Miss and LSU’s starter is TBA.

Hotty Toddy!

(Feature image credit: Chris Muller, The Rebel Walk)

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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