Ole Miss finished off their sweep of Charleston Southern this past weekend in glorious fashion. An 11-1 run rule victory in Game 2 and another run rule victory (12-2) in Game 3, sent the Rebel faithful home early but happy. Bianco managed to tweak the lineup and defensive alignment every day to get a better feel for his younger players while also trotting out eleven different guys on the mound in their shortened three game set. Good luck to Coach Mac the rest of the season, but you were no match for the Mighty Rebs this weekend.
Game 2 only lasted 6.5 innings. John Gaddis had a strong debut in Oxford with 4.0 innings pitched while only allowing 1 run. Freshman Riley Maddox took over from there and only needed to face seven batters to navigate his way through 2.0 scoreless innings. Bianco then decided to keep the newcomer parade rolling by sending JUCO transfer Matt Parenteau in for a “one, two, three” 7th inning. Gaddis is credited with the win, but Maddox and Parenteau looked great as well.
Offensively, Game 2 looked similar to Game 1. The Rebels were issued plenty of free passes and picked up hits when they needed them to score early and often. Tim Elko felt the need to hit another home run during his 2-3 day with 3 RBI. Hayden Leatherwood joined him in sending up the Beer Showers with a long ball of his own sent into Right Field. Because the game was called in the 7th inning, Kevin Graham did not get one last shot to get on base as he continued to try to shake the rust off. His 0-4 day broke up a remarkable 61-game on base streak in a Rebel uniform.
It did not take KG long to redeem himself and start his streak over. In the bottom of the 1st of Game 3, Graham blasted a 2-run home run off a light pole in front of the student section to take the lead. This would jump start a strong offensive day for the Rebels. With the Buccaneers finally attacking the strike zone instead of walking guys, the Rebels had a chance to rack up 12 hits in the shortened affair.
Calvin Harris was asked to take over behind the plate to give Hayden Dunhurst a day off. Harris made the most of it by going 2-4 with an RBI and a run scored. His day, however, was caught in the shadow of Kemp Alderman. As the Rebel offense exploded for 8 runs in the 5th inning, Alderman made his case for the everyday job by hitting a double and a home run in the same inning. A strong 2-3, 3 run, 3 RBI, 2 XBH day for Alderman definitely makes Bianco take notice.
Drew McDaniel got the Game 3 start, but like his teammates before him, he was pulled early from the game to get a feel for the bullpen’s depth. In 3.2 innings he struck out four and allowed one run to score. True freshman Hunter Elliot had a fantastic collegiate debut. He came into a 1-run game and needed just one pitch to get the Rebels out of the 4th inning. He then proceeded to throw a hitless 5th.
JUCO transfer Dylan DeLucia is the only Rebel pitcher who ran into some trouble. He made it through the 6th inning, but he did allow a couple of hits and a run to score. Jack Dougherty was then given his moment in the spotlight and he picked up right where he left off last season. Dougherty faced six batters and struck out five of them. The lone Buccaneer who put the ball in play off of him popped out to 2nd Base.
A sweep to start the season helped the Rebels in most of the polls as the rest of the Top 10 was shaken up dramatically. The Rebels sit as high as No. 2 in the College Baseball Writers’ Association poll, and as low as No. 22 in the Collegiate Baseball poll. As the season progresses, the polls will likely mirror each other a little more consistently.
In addition to the offense heating up and the pitching looking sturdy, the fan base deserves some credit as well. The attendance on Friday was the second best attendance for an opening game in school history, the sixth most attended game in Swayze Field history (now moved to seventh place), and took the nation’s top spot for Opening Day 2022. The Saturday crowd was even bigger than the Friday crowd and helped Ole Miss secure the second highest attendance for Opening Weekend in the country this year. It was a cold weekend, but the Rebel fans were not willing to miss out.
The Rebels will be back in action at home on Wednesday as they take on the Arkansas State Red Wolves at 1 PM. The game was originally schedule for Tuesday evening, but had to be pushed back due to weather.