Ole Miss was added to the shortlist on Friday of schools who are eligible to host Regionals. They certainly did not do much to earn it over the last few weeks, but with Vandy, Georgia, and the SEC Tournament still to play, they can try to work their way back into the top 16.
Tuesday night Ole Miss played in a tune-up game against Little Rock. The 9-4 victory featured 7 different Rebel arms. Josh Mallitz got the start, but did not pitch deep enough to earn the win. Instead, Austin Miller is credited the W after coming in during the 3rd inning to bail out Mallitz who had given up a run. Brandon Johnson threw a scoreless 4th before Jackson Kimbrell allowed 2 runs in the 5th. 2 scoreless frames from Tyler Myers gave way to Wes Burton in the 8th where Little Rock put up another run. Braden Forsyth came in and shut the door in a non-save situation by striking out the side in the 9th.
Peyton Chatagnier got the scoring started with a bases clearing double in the 2nd. That was his only hit of the game, but after Kevin Graham’s base hit scored Chatty, the Rebs took an early 4-0 lead. Graham finished the day 3-3 with 2 walks. Jacob Gonzalez led the way offensively going 4-5 with a 3-run blast in the 7th inning that capped off the scoring for Ole Miss.
With Gunnar Hoglund’s season cut short by a torn UCL, Doug Nikhazy was asked to reclaim his Friday Night role on the mound. Vanderbilt is the last team Ole Miss can add to the resume to prove they belong as a national seed and once again, Doug Day = Dub Day. Doug struck out 10 in 7 innings and earned just 1 run before Taylor Broadway came in for a 6 out save. Doug is now 7-2 on the season and Broadway picked up save number 10.
TJ McCants sent a ball into the student section in the 2nd inning to take the early lead over Vanderbilt’s ace, and presumptive #1 overall pick in the upcoming MLB draft, Kumar Rocker. Kevin Graham added a solo shot of his own an inning later and that was all the Rebs needed. The Rebels took Game 1 of the series by a score of 3-1. Interestingly enough, every run scored in this game was off a long ball.
Game 2 might become a similar style pitchers’ duel. Jack Leiter will pitch for the Commodores after taking a weekend off last week. He has struggled lately, so hopefully the Rebels can get some early runs and hold on for a series win. The Rebels probably won’t get another 118 pitch display of dominance like they got from Nikhazy, so the bullpen pitching effectively will be critical.
The seniors out of the bullpen will be celebrated pregame on Saturday. Hopefully, they can shine with the spotlight on them and make up for Gunnar’s absence from the weekend rotation. The game is scheduled to being at 4 PM Central.