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Two Down: Stellar Pitching, Clutch Hitting Lead Ole Miss to Dominant Win Over Arkansas, 13-5

by | Jun 20, 2022 | Baseball, Omaha | 0 comments

OMAHA, Neb. – In front of 25,246 fans, Ole Miss pitcher Hunter Elliott took the mound for the biggest outing of his young career and put on another show, leading the Rebels to a 13-5 win over Arkansas and to a 2-0 mark in Omaha.

REBS STRIKE FIRST, AGAIN

Justin Bench led off the game with a single into right field. That was followed by a fielder’s choice groundout by Jacob Gonzalez that moved Bench to second, and then a groundout by Tim Elko which moved Bench to third.

Kevin Graham would then deliver an RBI single into right to give the Rebs the early lead.

Kemp Alderman and Peyton Chatagnier would then get free passes to load the bases. Hayden Dunhurst would then be walked with ducks on the pond and get an RBI, making it 2-0 Rebels.

That would be the end of the day for Arkansas starter Zack Morris. Morris would make it just two thirds of an inning, allowing two hits, two runs, walking two with one hit-by-pitch on 25 pitches. Evan Taylor would come on in relief and get Garrett Wood to ground out and end the frame.

HOGS GET ONE BACK

After Arkansas leadoff man Braydon Webb got a single in the home half of the first, Hunter Elliott responded with back-to-back strikeouts of Brady Slavens and Cayden Wallace to get two outs.

Michael Turner then hit what looked to be a routine fly ball into left field, but Kevin Graham lost the ball in the sun and it dropped for an RBI double, getting the Hogs to within 2-1. Elliott would bounce right back with a strikeout of Chris Lanzilli to end the inning.

OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN

In the top of the second inning, Justin Bench collected his second hit of the night with a double down the left field line. After a Jacob Gonzalez groundout, Tim Elko absolutely crushed a 416 foot bomb into left to make it 4-1 Rebels and collect his first ever homer in Omaha.

The blast came with the wind blowing IN at 20+ miles per hour.

HOGS ANSWER RIGHT BACK

Arkansas wasn’t going to go away quietly. After the Rebels jumped out to a three-run lead on the Elko homer, an error by Gonzalez allowed Robert Moore to reach to lead off the home second.

Jalen Battles then doubled, followed by a Peyton Stovall groundout that scored Moore and made it 4-2. A perfectly executed safety squeeze by Zack Gregory would then score Battles and it was a one-run game again, 4-3.

All three runs were unearned due to the error. Elliott would get Brady Slavens to pop out to finally end the frame. That would prompt Dave Van Horn to go to another hurler, bringing in Kole Ramage to start the third inning.

ROLLER COASTER START

The Rebels came back to the plate in the third having watched their cushion evaporate for the second time.

But after a Peyton Chatagnier fly out to left, Hayden Dunhurst walked followed by a Garrett Wood single. That brought up Calvin Harris, who doubled into left field, scoring both Dunhurst and Wood to make it 6-3.

Harris would get to third on a wild throw in from left field, but the Arkansas defense would prevent any more damage.

THE HUNTER STRIKES

After allowing a leadoff walk to Cayden Wallace, Elliott would immediately erase him with an exceptional move to first to pick him off for the first out.

The pickoff would lead to the first scoreless half inning of the night for either pitcher.

Arkansas would then bring in its fourth pitcher of the game, Jaxon Wiggins, who would also record a scoreless half inning in the top of the fourth.

REBELS ADD ON

Jaxon Wiggins came back out to start the top of the fifth for Arkansas, and after a one-out walk from Garrett Wood, Calvin Harris destroyed a 95 MPH fastball into the right field bullpen to make it 8-3, Rebels.

Bench would follow with a single for his third hit of the game. After moving up to second on a wild pitch, Gonzalez made it 9-3 with an RBI single. The hit from Gonzo meant that every Ole Miss Rebel had reached base in the game.

Elko would then walk, and Graham would add on some more with an RBI single of his own to make it 10-3 Rebels.

In the regular season weekend series in Fayetteville, Ole Miss had only scored ten total runs for the entire weekend. That would prompt yet another pitching change for the Hogs, as they would replace Wiggins with Elijah Trest.

Trest wouldn’t allow any further damage, but the Rebels lead was seven heading into the home half of the fifth.

HUNTER LOCKED IN

After the Hogs scored three runs in the first two innings, Elliott locked in. He would not allow a run from the third through the seventh, and had to throw just 100 pitches to get there.

He would be replaced by Mason Nichols with one out in the seventh. Elliott’s final line was six hits, three runs (one earned), two walks and four strikeouts. It was yet another phenomenal outing on the biggest stage for the freshman phenom. Hunter talked about pitching with a lead and how it takes the pressure off.

It’s huge. Pitching with a lead is huge. These guys have been able to do that for me lately. It’s easier to pitch with the lead than being down runs or tied and having to make perfect pitches.

Ole Miss pitcher Hunter Elliott

Nichols would get back-to-back strikeouts of Braydon Webb and Brady Slavens to end the frame.

RUNNING IT UP

In the Ole Miss eighth, Garrett Wood walked, Calvin Harris doubled, and Justin Bench made it count with a two-RBI single to make it 12-3 Ole Miss.

The combination of Wood, Harris and Bench in the game had eight hits, six RBI’s and three extra-base hits, including the Harris home run. Bench talked about the approach at the plate on a night when Arkansas used a variety of pitchers.

We had a scouting report. We thought they were going to staff it and they did. We knew what we were doing. Just go up there and have tough at bats.”

Justin Bench

FINISHING ‘EM OFF

The Rebels would add another run in the eighth on a Tim Elko fielder’s choice ground ball to make it 13-3. In the 19 runs Ole Miss has scored in Omaha, ten of them have come with two outs. Coach Mike Bianco talked about how crucial those two-out runs are.

I learned from my mentor that the most important thing to winning a baseball game is dominant pitching and we’ve had that, but the second most important thing is the timely hits and we’ve had a ton of those over the last three weeks. We have a really good offense but sometimes to get things rolling offensively is tough and it’s hard to score runs unless you’re gonna score them with two outs. You can score them with no outs and you can score them with one out but man those two-out runs are backbreakers.

Coach Bianco on the Rebels’ two-out hitting

Brandon Johnson would allow a two-run homer to Peyton Stovall in the ninth that made it 13-5 but slammed the door after that — and that would be all she wrote as Ole Miss would jump to 2-0 in Omaha while sending Arkansas to the loser’s bracket for a matchup with Auburn.

The Hogs will face the Tigers on Tuesday, while Ole Miss will await the winner of that game Wednesday night at 6:00 p.m. CT.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Should Ole Miss get a win on Wednesday, the Rebels will be safely into the championship series that begins Saturday. With a loss, they will have to play an elimination game on Thursday.

The Rebs are hot.

(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss)

Austin Eldridge
Austin Eldridge

Austin has more than ten years in sports media, including sports talk radio, play-by-play broadcasting and journalism. He has followed Ole Miss athletics for his entire life and has covered the Rebels and the rest of the SEC while working in the Memphis media market. Outside of sports media, Austin is a musician and outdoorsman. Before a serious accident forced him to be medically discharged, he was a multi-media journalist with the Mississippi National Guard.

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