At 3:31 PM Central Time, the longest offseason in Ole Miss Baseball history finally came to a close as Ole Miss took on TCU at GlobeLife Field, home of the Texas Rangers. Anybody who paid for a ticket got their money’s worth. After 6 strikeouts between the 2 teams in the 1st inning, the game appeared to be headed for a pitcher’s duel between 2 highly touted starters. The top of the 2nd, however, unraveled for TCU right hander, Johnny Ray.
After a walk, hit batsman, another walk, double, and single, the Rebels had a 4-0 lead with nobody out. Ray regrouped and stopped the bleeding, and the Horned Frog offense went to work again against Doug Nikhazy.
A double and a walk put Nikhazy in a bad spot to start the frame, but a near double play followed by a fly out kept the runners where they were. An infield hit then loaded the bases and Doug lost the strike zone completely. He walked in 3 consecutive runs before leaving his disaster for the bullpen to clean up.
Jackson Kimbrell came up clutch bailing out his starter and then throwing 2 more scoreless frames of his own. Kimbrell had himself a little scare in the 4th, but not as scary as Drew McDaniel who let up a long fly deep to center in the 5th. Justin Bench tracked it down right in front of the 407 ft. marking in centerfield to end the inning. In any college ballpark that would have been a 3 run blast for TCU.
In the 7th and 9th innings, Peyton Chatagnier finally came through by adding a 2 RBI double and an RBI single to the Rebel’s score. His new cohort in the middle of the infield has some big shoes to fill and a long legacy to uphold as a Rebel Shortstop, but his web gem in the bottom of the 7th shows that Jacob Gonzalez is up for the task.
The bullpen was the hero. Despite having 8 baserunners in 7.1 innings, they made the pitches they needed to and didn’t allow a single run. Coming into the season it was clear that one of the greatest assets this Rebel team possesses is the deep and experienced pen. Recording 22 outs without allowing a run is great way for them to showcase that.
Opening Day came with plenty of drama, a couple of web gems, and way too many reviews. The Rebels extended the nation’s longest win streak to 17 games (dating back to last season). They will play Texas Tech tomorrow afternoon as they try to show the country that they belong in the top 5. All eyes will be on top 25 prospect Gunnar Hoglund who will be getting the start for Ole Miss against a very potent lineup.