Ole Miss started their season off with a 9-3 win over Charleston Southern last night. 11,146 fans braved the cold weather to see the Rebels on Opening Day and they were not disappointed. With all the familiar faces on this year’s roster, it came as no surprise that Tim Elko would steal the show in the end.
While the offense did strike for 9 runs, they did not rack up as many hits as Rebel fans were expecting. Only having 7 hits was due in large part to command issues exhibited by the Buccaneers’ pitchers early on. In the first 3 innings, The Bucs managed to plunk four Ole Miss batters and walk another three. The Ole Miss lineup was issued eleven free passes in total which kept plenty of traffic on the bases.
Kevin Graham looked like he still needed to shake off some of the off-season rust as he struck out three times, but nobody else on the team fell victim to the K more than once. Justin Bench and TJ McCants started their years off with multi-hit performances; both players logged 2 hits, 1 RBI, and 1 HBP. As mentioned earlier, however, this night belonged to the team captain.
Tim Elko was 0-2 when he dug in to lead off the 6th inning. With a 2-2 count, Elko got just enough of a pitch to drive it over the RF wall and send up Beer Showers in the student section. Even with the game firmly in hand, the sun down, and the temperatures in the low 30s, nobody shyed away from their unique home run celebration.
Derek Diamond is credited with the win after allowing 2 runs in 5.0 innings and amassing 8 Ks. Jack Washburn allowed no hits in his 1.0 inning debut before turning it over to veteran Mitch Murrell. Murrell allowed a run in 2.0 innings, but he did strike out four Buccaneers. Freshman Mason Nichols then pitched a scoreless 9th to kick off his career.
The Rebels will face Charleston Southern again on Saturday at 1:30 PM. Experienced transfer John Gaddis will get the start for Ole Miss. Hayden Leatherwood will be starting in Right today and shaking up the defensive alignment a bit. Ben Van Cleve will also be inserted into the lineup at DH.