Offensive Explosion Fuels No. 4 Ole Miss Baseball’s Sweep of Auburn
Published 5:00 pm Tuesday, March 23, 2021
OXFORD, Miss. — Despite a late surge by the Tigers, the Ole Miss offense proved to be too much to handle for the Auburn pitching staff as the No. 4 Rebels (16-4, 3-0 SEC) scored in bunches and scored often Sunday afternoon, completing the series sweep with a 19-11 victory at Swayze Field.
By the sixth inning, the Rebels had built up a 14-0 lead thanks to a seven-run second inning and a valiant performance by Derek Diamond (2-2) on the mound. Auburn roared back with a nine-run eighth inning, but Ole Miss countered to put the game out of reach once again.
Tim Elko turned in another dominant performance offensively, going 4-for-6 at the plate with three RBI and two runs scored. TJ McCants went 2-for-3 and hit his first career home run. Ben Van Cleve, Jacob Gonzalez and Kevin Graham each finished with two hits.
Diamond went the distance, throwing 6.0 innings while pitching a shutout with six strikeouts and just four hits allowed. His performance gave the Rebels a much-needed cushion while the offense took care of the rest.
Auburn had three runners get on base in the first two innings with a pair walks issued and a hit by Rankin Woley. In both instances, Diamond got out of the inning with no further damage.
Elko got the first Rebel hit of the afternoon with a line drive single to right field. Hayden Dunhurst and Justin Bench proceeded to reach via walk, loading the bases with no outs in the bottom of the second. Hayden Leatherwood got Ole Miss on the board 1-0 after scoring Elko on an RBI single that was mishandled by Brody Moore at second base. A walk issued to Calvin Harris tacked on another Rebel run to make it 2-0.
The lead got even larger as Peyton Chatagnier hit a one-out, left field double off the bullpen wall while Gonzalez singled to left center, each scoring two runs. The Rebels tacked on another as Elko scored Gonzalez on an RBI groundout to make it a 7-0 Ole Miss lead after two complete.
After a quick third inning, the Tigers began the fourth with back-to-back singles by Tyler Miller and Moore. The Rebels slammed the door just like that. Diamond struck out Williams before inducing a double play to end the top of the fourth. McCants wasted little time getting his first home run of the season on his first pitch with a solo shot to right field to drive his team further away from the Tigers. With two outs, Chatagnier walked and later scored after an RBI double by Elko, who later came home on a Dunhurst base hit. The Rebels had a 10-0 lead after four innings.
Fast forward to the sixth inning, the Rebels loaded the bases with no outs, setting up John Rhys Plumlee with an RBI single and Van Cleve with a two-RBI single. The 14-0 lead was cut to five in the eighth inning alone as the Tigers tailed nine runs and eight hits on the Rebel bullpen. Josh Mallitz stopped the bleeding by striking out the side. The Rebels weren’t done scoring, however.
Two walks and a single off the center field wall by Van Cleve loaded the bases once again with no outs. McCants’ two-RBI double, Gonzalez’s two-RBI single and Elko’s RBI single extended the Rebel lead to 10. The Tigers scored two runs in the ninth, but Mallitz eventually closed the door and capped off the series sweep of Auburn.
The Rebels return to Swayze Field Tuesday, March 23, for midweek baseball against Central Arkansas. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. CT and can be listened to on the Ole Miss Radio Network.
⁃ The Rebels move to 16-4 overall on the season and 3-0 in SEC play
⁃ Ole Miss advances to 94-88 all-time against Auburn
⁃ The Rebels have swept four straight home series against the Tigers, giving them 12 straight victories over Auburn at Swayze Field.
⁃ The seven-run second inning tied the highest total in any inning this season (first inning against Jackson State, March 3).
⁃ TJ McCants hit his first career home run in the 4th inning and notched a career-best three RBI.
⁃ Ole Miss sweeps its first SEC opening series since 2004 (Vanderbilt)
⁃ The 19 runs scored by the Rebels are the most since the 2019 NCAA Regional finale against Jacksonville State and the most in SEC play since 2019’s 10-inning series finale at LSU.
⁃ Derek Diamond tied his longest outing of the season at 6.0 innings.
⁃ Jacob Gonzalez drove in a career-high four runs.