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Dominant Win Moves No. 1 Ole Miss Baseball to 4-0

OXFORD, Miss. — On opening day at Swayze Field, the top-ranked Ole Miss baseball team took care of business as the pitching staff put on a clinic to defeat the Arkansas State Red Wolves 12-1 Wednesday to move to 4-0 on the year and extend the Rebel win streak to 20 games.

Drew McDaniel (1-0) went 4.1 and struck out eight batters while allowing one hit. The bullpen, composed of Jackson KimbrellCody AdcockWes Burton and Tyler Myers, allowed just a single hit and struck out 10 of 15 batters.

Kevin Graham led the way offensively, going 3-for-4 at the plate with two runs batted in and three runs scored. Cael Baker and John Rhys Plumlee each tailed two RBI via the home run. In his first action as a Rebel, TJ McCants went 2-for-5.

McDaniel started things off by taking care of the top of the Arkansas State order. After Jack Jumper retired Justin Bench and Jacob Gonzalez, Graham hit a line drive single to center field for the first hit of the game. After a walk issued to Tim ElkoHayden Dunhurst got Ole Miss on the board with an RBI single that scored Graham.

The second inning began with McDaniel again retiring three batters, one of them by a diving catch by Graham in left field. The sophomore out of Lafayette, Louisiana, continued to deal in the top of the third inning with two strikeouts and a pop up by Jaylon Deshazier.

The Rebels responded by getting on base once again with a Leatherwood single to left field. Baker followed that up with his first hit of the season, a two-run homer to left center with one out. Knox Loposer reached first after being hit by pitch and scored when the Red Wolves failed to corral a McCants pop-up, making it a 4-0 Rebel advantage.

The Red Wolves got their first hit and run of the season with a solo home run by Liam Hicks on a 1-2 pitch. Despite the longball, McDaniel responded in a big way with three consecutive strikeouts. Ole Miss continued to pour it on in the bottom half of the inning. Gonzalez reached second after a throwing error, setting up Graham with an RBI single. After another Arkansas State error, Elko reached and Dunhurst notched another RBI single that scored Graham to make it a 6-1 lead.

With runners at the corners and one out, Kimbrell came out of the bullpen and retired the next two batters. In the bottom half, the Rebels again threatened with runners on second and third after a McCants double. Bench came through with a two-RBI single to make it an 8-1 advantage. After a Gonzalez single, the Rebels had runners at the corners with one out and Graham cashed in once again with a sacrifice fly to score Bench and make it 9-1.

Kimbrell walked Hicks to begin the sixth inning, but a double play and a strikeout of Tyler Duncan brought the top half to an end. Adcock replaced Kimbrell on the mound and used eight pitches to retire three Arkansas State batters. Burton then took the torch in the eighth and picked up right where his predecessors left off, notching two strikeouts and a pop-up for an easy inning.

Ole Miss then took its final offensive half-inning to add some more insurance. Graham singled the first pitch up the middle, and after a walk to Wood, the Rebels had runners on first and second with no outs. Calvin Harris plated Graham on an RBI groundout, then Plumlee followed that up with a crushed home run to center field to make it a 12-1 ballgame. Myers was called upon to deliver three more outs on the mound and delivered, moving Ole Miss to 4-0.

The Rebels will begin a three-game weekend series at Swayze Field on February 26 against the UCF Knights. Friday’s first pitch is set for 4 p.m. CT and can be seen on SECN+ or listened to on the Ole Miss Radio Network.

QUICK HITS
– The Rebels won their 20th straight game, the longest winning streak in program history.
– Ole Miss increases to 87-24 all-time vs. Arkansas State.
– The Ole Miss pitching staff combined for 18 strikeouts today, the most since Feb. 22, 2020 when the Rebels fanned 18 against Xavier.
– The bullpen did not allow a run today, and increase their season total to 20.1 IP with just one earned run allowed.
– Sophomore John Rhys Plumlee hit his first career home run today.
– Freshman TJ McCants recorded his first career hit today as part of a 2-for-5 day at the plate.
– Cody Adcock made his career debut on the mound today and struck out all three batters he faced in the seventh inning.
– Drew McDaniel earned his first career win today after going 4.1 IP with a career-high eight strikeouts.
– Cael Baker notched a homer in his first game of the season.
– Tyler Myers made his first appearance in almost two years after missing 2020 to injury and struck out three batters in his one inning of work.