Ole Miss was scheduled to play a three game series against the VCU Rams this past weekend. With Game 2 being canceled by the weather, Ole Miss only got to pick up a pair of wins this weekend. This short weekend will not bother anybody in Oxford, however, because their undefeated DiamondRebs are now the highest ranked SEC team in the Baseball America Top 25 at No. 6.
Derek Diamond started Game 1 and lasted 5 innings. If his goal was to pitch to contact this weekend, he accomplished it. He only struck out two batters and walked one while allowing five hits and two runs. He is credited with the win for his efforts, but the bullpen stole the show from him.
Hunter Elliott took over in the 6th inning and struck out all three batters. After allowing a hit to start the 7th, he settled back in and recorded three more quick outs. In came Mitch Murrell for the 8th. Murrell struck out two batters in his hitless inning before turning the ball over to Mason Nichols to close it out. Nichols did allow two runs on two hits, but he continued the bullpen’s trend of ringing guys up at the plate by striking out the side.
Offensively, only Calvin Harris managed multiple hits, but plenty of guys were productive. Peyton Chatagnier took the selfless route by recording 3 RBI on 3 sac flies, Kevin Graham had the lone Ole Miss home run, Reagan Burford stayed hot with a 2 RBI double and a SF to account for 3 RBI in total, and TJ McCants became a pest on the bases with 1 hit, 2 walks, and 1 stolen base.
The Rebels scored 10 runs in total, but VCU hung around for a whole 9 inning game. It marked only the second time this season that the Rebels had to play a full game. In Sunday’s contest, the Rams would not have the same luck. The Rebel bats exploded for another mercy rule victory in just 7 innings.
Every starter reached base in this game. Hayden Leatherwood was the only one of them held hitless, but he did draw a walk and came around to score. Jacob Gonzalez, Tim Elko, and Tywone Malone all went deep with Elko racking up 3 RBI and his two cohorts accounted for 2 RBI each.
Gonzalez may have fared better if the Rams would give him a chance to hit, but they gifted him three free passes. McCants kept being a tough out as he drew two more walks and went 1-2. Other guys who were hard to get out were Graham and Justin Bench as both of them logged 3-4 days.
As far as pitching goes, the Rebels had nothing to stress about. With no game being played on Saturday, the Rebs had multiple weekend starters available. Drew McDaniel was given the nod to start and he picked up the win. He allowed 3 runs on 1 hit and 3 walks in 3.0 innings, but because of some defensive miscues, only 1 ER.
John Gaddis came out of the bullpen first and faced 10 batters. He did not offer up any free passes and only allowed 1 hit in 3.0 innings of labor. Brandon Johnson took the mound in the 7th and pitched a hitless outing. His lone baserunner reached on Catcher’s Interference as the defensive miscues started piling up.
Although the Rebels only played 16 innings this weekend, it was a productive weekend for everybody on the team. A consistent team game on Friday and dominant performance on Sunday should be enough to elevate them in every major poll. When you factor in the excitement of the powerful offense and the viral superheroes (Elko and Malone), this team deserves all the extra media attention that is up for grabs with MLB in lockout.
The Mighty Rebs will be back in action on Tuesday as they kick off a two game midweek series against ULM. There is still some work to do for Bianco to fine tune his lineup and the depth within the bullpen, but at 6-0 it seems as if any combination of this talented team can win. The schedule will get considerably harder in a couple of weeks, but for now, the Rebels look unstoppable.