Long Ball Lifts No. 3 Ole Miss Baseball Over Central Arkansas

Published 9:00 am Thursday, March 25, 2021

OXFORD, Miss. — No. 3 Ole Miss used three home runs and some dominant pitching to notch its fourth straight victory Tuesday night, a 5-2 win over Central Arkansas at Swayze Field.

Jacob GonzalezTim Elko and Hayden Dunhurst accounted for the trio of homers with the latter two going back-to-back in the fourth inning. Justin Bench was all over the place Tuesday evening, finishing a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate while finding himself in scoring position four times, leading to a team-high two runs scored. Dunhurst himself went 2-for-3 at the plate.

Mike Bianco shared the wealth on the mound with starter Josh Mallitz going three innings and getting three strikeouts with just one unearned run allowed. The Ole Miss bullpen composed of Braden ForsythJackson KimbrellMitch MurrellAustin Miller and Taylor Broadway gave up a combined two hits to allow Ole Miss to walk away with another midweek victory.

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It didn’t take long for the Bears to draw first blood in the contest as Mallitz put two runners on base on his first two pitches, setting up Connor Emmet to score on a throwing error. Ole Miss returned the favor after Gonzalez nailed a homer to deep center field, scoring himself and Bench to go up 2-1 in the first inning.

After both starters went 1-2-3 through the lineup in the second inning, the Bears got two on base once again with another error and single, but all to no avail as Mallitz struck out the side. Bench reached via single in the bottom half of the third, but two popups would end the inning, bringing Forsyth out of the Rebel bullpen.

Forsyth used seven pitches to get to the bottom of the fourth, where Elko and Dunhurst hit back-to-back bombs to go up 4-1. Fast forward to the fifth inning, the Rebels extended their lead to five after an RBI single by Kevin Graham scored Bench.

With Kimbrell out of the Rebel bullpen, Beau Orlando singled to left field to begin the sixth inning and later advanced to third on two wild pitches. Connor Flagg singled an 0-2 pitch up the middle to cut into the Rebel deficit. Murrell succeeded Kimbrell on the mound and retired the side to prevent any further damage. Miller and Broadway carried the Rebels the rest of the way to win their fifth midweek contest of the season.

The Rebels will travel to Tuscaloosa to take on Alabama in a three-game SEC series starting Thursday. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. CT and can be seen on ESPNU or listened to on the Ole Miss Radio Network.

Quick Hits
– Ole Miss moves to 17-4 overall on the season, 5-1 in midweek games.
– The Rebels are now 6-1 all-time against Central Arkansas.
– Justin Bench snapped a four-game, 12 at-bat hitless streak in the game’s opening inning.
– Tim Elko and Hayden Dunhurst hit consecutive home runs in a game for the first time since June 1, 2019 against Clemson (Cole Zabowski and Cooper Johnson).
– Justin Bench had his fourth three-hit game of the season.
– Justin Bench advanced to second on a wild pitch four times in Tuesday’s contest.
– Tim Elko extended his reached-base streak to 16 games.
– Kevin Graham extended his hitting streak to eight consecutive games and has now reached base in 14 straight games.
– Braden Forsyth tied a career-high 2.0 IP.
– Tim Elko’s eight home runs leads the team (T-2nd in SEC).
– Taylor Broadway recorded his third save in the last four games.