Tough Weekend has Ole Miss Looking to Regroup

After a tough fought battle Friday night resulted in the Rebels’ first loss in over a year, a doubleheader awaited them on Saturday.
Game 1 of the doubleheader was back and forth. After taking an early 3-0 lead, the Rebels looked as if they were going to rebound from the Friday loss. Gunnar Hoglund was cruising, giving up just 2 runs in 7 innings. The bullpen then took over and struggled. Mallitz and Forsyth gave up 3 runs (1 of which was unearned) while only recording 1 out between the 2 of them. Jackson Kimbrell took over and steadied the ship, but the Rebs were in need of a comeback to salvage the victory.
Trey LaFleur led off the 9th with a solo homerun to fire up the Rebels. With 2 outs, Bench tied it up with an RBI single. An error by the UCF shortstop kept the inning alive and allowed a chance for the Rebel captain, Tim Elko, to be the hero. Central Florida then turned the ball over to the pitcher that successfully held down the Friday night surge from the Rebels, David Litchfield. Elko, on an 0-2 count, singled into Right and drove home a very dramatic win.
The second leg of the doubleheader was, unfortunately, going to require more than just a little late inning magic. Derek Diamond allowed 4 runs and didn’t make it out of the 6th inning. He struck out more that 25% of the batters he faced and was not particularly bad in this one. His 0 walk outing shows that he was pitching for contact, it just so happens the Knights were getting that contact. 3 doubles and a homerun allowed Central Florida to tack on a run 1 inning at a time. Luke Baker, making his Swayze Field debut, struck out 2 of the 6 batters he faced but managed to earn 3 runs in his 1 inning pitched. When the Rebs had their chance to cut into the deficit, bases loaded nobody out in the 8th, they managed to push across just 1 run.
The Rebels lost this game bady, but the game didn’t seem totally out of reach until the double play in the 8th. The big story in this one is the .182 batting average with runners on for Ole Miss. That kind of production against a team that is getting the hits when they need them (.318 average with runners on for UCF) will never be enough to squeak out a victory.
Derek Diamond is pegged with the first loss of his career and the Rebels drop a series for the first time since the 2019 Super Regional in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Ole Miss needed some magic to keep from being swept in a series many predicted them to go 3-0 in. Hopefully, they don’t have any trouble putting away local rival, Memphis, Tuesday afternoon. They will certainly drop from that #1 ranking, but they have plenty of season left to secure a position among the Top 8 National Seeds and force the road to Omaha to travel through Oxford.

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