Ole Miss entered the weekend on a rare, 2-game losing streak. With SEC play meaning so much more than non-conference games, they needed a big weekend to jump out to an early start. When the dust settled on the conference’s opening weekend, Ole Miss sat alone at the top of the West with a 3-0 record.
Gunnar Hoglund got the start on Friday and he looked comfortable in the spotlight. He came into the game as the nation’s leader in strikeouts. His 8 scoreless innings yielded 13 more Ks taking his incredible total to 55 on the season.
The Auburn starter, Greenhill, was also impressive. He allowed no runs in his 7 innings before turning it over to Gonzalez to try to keep it tied in the 8th. Calvin Harris came in for the Rebs to pinch hit for JRP and he made the most of it. A solo homerun for the Rebels late in the game was the only run scored as Taylor Broadway came in to close out the 9th and Ole Miss improved to 1-0 in the SEC.
Game 2 was a little more exciting. Drew McDaniel got the start for Ole Miss and allowed just 2 runs in 5 frames. Kimbrell and Miller tag teamed their way through the 6th and 7th innings where both allowed Auburn to pull closer. After Miller allowed a solo homerun, for the second time in the 7th inning, Tyler Myers was called on to clean up the mess.
Myers allowed the first batter he faced to reach base, but he settled in and retired the next 4 batters he faced to keep the Rebel lead intact through 8 innings. Enter Taylor Broadway (again) with a 1-run lead (again). 2 quick outs in the 9th got the fans excited, but a single through the right side made the crowd nervous. With the Auburn 4-hole hitter up (who was 2-4 with a homerun to this point), Broadway induced a fly ball to Right and earned the save. A ball that the park held with relative ease seemed to make Rebel fans a little nervous given the high-leverage nature of the at-bat.
The top third of the Ole Miss lineup went a combined 6-14 with a walk but didn’t contribute any RBIs. The 6, 7, 8 spots in the lineup picked up the slack and drove in the runs. The Rebel offense jumped out early with 6 runs in the first 3 innings, but they cooled off after the Auburn starter was chased. They played good, fundamental, station-to-station baseball and kept pressure on the Auburn pitchers as they picked up win number 2 in a 6-5 contest.
Game 3 was even more exciting. The score looked more appropriate for a lacrosse game than a baseball game. Derek Diamond brought his good stuff, allowing 0 runs and 4 hits through 6 innings. With the bats coming alive and giving him 14 runs worth of support, the move was made to pull him after a solid outing.
Wes Burton made efficient work of the 7th inning allowing just a walked batter to reach base. Then came the 8th. Luke Baker got blown up in the 8th. He allowed 7 runs, only earning 4 of them because of an error by Justin Bench at 3rd Base, without recording a single out. Logan Savell also had 2 of his come around to score, but they both were unearned as well. Auburn pushed across 9 runs in the inning before Josh Mallitz came in and steadied the ship.
Ole Miss hitters had no trouble with what Auburn was offering up. Tim Elko, who had been cooling off from the tear he went on earlier this season, burst back on the scene with a 4-6 day. The 6-hole in the lineup was the only one without a hit. Justin Bench did, however, walk 3 times and score 3 runs. It’s hard to pick which stat is most impressive; the 19 runs, 16 hits, 11 walks, and only 6 strikeouts are all head turning numbers. The Rebels managed to score off anybody the Tigers put on the hill until the change they made with 2 out in the 6th.
Auburn’s Morrison was the first pitcher in the game to hold down the Rebel offense, but they decided not to trot him out there for the 8th inning. The Rebels welcomed the new pitcher, Owen, with a crooked number. 5 runs already scored and only 1 out in the inning prompted the Auburn dugout to use their seventh arm of the afternoon to stop the bleeding and get themselves back in the batter’s box.
The Tigers did manage to score 2 more runs in the 9th, but the Rebel lead was insurmountable. Final score: Ole Miss 19, Auburn 11.
A big sweep for the Rebels has their confidence high, but the road ahead is brutal. They’ll have a (hopefully) easy outing against UCA in the midweek match-up before heading to Tuscaloosa for a weekend series against Alabama. Bama may have lost their series against Arkansas, but most people do. The Crimson Tide did manage to explode for 16 runs in a lopsided Friday night victory to start that series. Hopefully Gunnar Hoglund can keep his rhythm and spin another gem for Ole Miss this Thursday in a nationally televised game.