Ole Miss Uses Five Home Runs to Outduel the Knights

Game 1 between Ole Miss and UCF came down to the relief pitchers. Neither starter looked like they had their best stuff. Ole Miss took advantage of their incredible power at the plate and staged a nice comeback victory with some help from the guys in the bullpen.

Derek Diamond started the game and lasted 4.2 innings. While he did manage to strike out seven batters, he could not keep the Knights off the bases. He allowed 6 Runs on 6 Hits with 5 XBH (4 doubles and 1 home run). He also did not induce a single ground ball out during his performance. His night was over after he relinquished the lead in the bottom of the 5th and left with responsibility for a baserunner at second.

In came Riley Maddox to try to right the ship. He gave up an RBI single on the first pitch he threw to allow the Knights to stretch their lead. After getting out of the 5th, he was given immediate run support. Maddox took advantage of the boost from the offense and pitched a scoreless 6th. His efforts were good enough to earn him the win.

Brandon Johnson had a more difficult task. He had to preserve the slim lead from the 7th inning on. He had a solid 1-2-3 7th, but then struggled to find the zone in the 8th. He walked four batters in the inning and allowed the Knights to get within one. Bianco trusted Johnson to get out of the jam of his own making and he delivered. He punched out the UCF 1st Baseman who had 4 RBI, 1 HR, and 1 Double up to that point in the game. Riding that confidence, Johnson struck out the three batters he faced in the 9th and walked away with a heart pounding nine out save.

The pitching staff definitely needs to take the batting lineup out for a nice dinner after this game. There was production coming from everybody. Every Ole Miss starter reached base at least once and a handful of them were in a heated competition for star of the game. The Rebel offense was in rare form. They racked up 10 Hits and half of those hits left the yard.

TJ McCants got the party started in the 5th with a 3-Run blast that put the Rebels in front 3-2. After the tumultuous bottom half of that inning came to a close, the top of the order joined in on the fun to support the bullpen. Peyton Chatagnier, Jacob Gonzalez, and Tim Elko went back-to-back-to-back to lead off the 6th and force the Knights to make a pitching change.

With a runner on and two outs in the 7th, Chatagnier struck again. Most 2nd Basemen aren’t capable of going deep multiple times in a game, but his second home run (team’s fifth) of the evening was enough to put the Rebels in front for good. If you have more home runs than runners left on base, chances are you are going to win some games. The Rebel offense needed every ounce of effort from the lineup to keep their win streak alive.

For anybody who was curious, former Ole Miss OF and QB, John Rhys Plumlee, did not see any action in Game 1. It will be interesting to see if he is given a chance to make an impact against his former team sometime this weekend. It would be nice to see a former Rebel succeed, but hopefully not in a game changing type of way (at least for this weekend).

With the Friday night test behind them, the Rebels will turn their attention to securing a series win. Across the nation, plenty of highly ranked teams lost their weekend openers. This gives Ole Miss a chance to move up in the polls that still aren’t respecting them, while also solidifying their spot in the polls that do.

The Rebels will be back in action on Saturday at 3 PM Central. The Ole Miss faithful will likely see John Gaddis get the start for the DiamondRebs in an attempt to push the win streak to double digits.

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