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Ole Miss Baseball Bounces Back with 16-4 Win Over Memphis

OXFORD, Miss. — After losing their first weekend series of the season, No. 4 Ole Miss took it all out on the Memphis Tigers as the Rebels (6-2) churned out 11 hits and a season-high in runs, winning 16-4 at Swayze Field Tuesday evening.

In his third appearance on the mound this season, Drew McDaniel (2-0) went four innings while giving up only one earned run on four hits. Jackson Kimbrell and Greer Holston made up the bullpen production and struck out a combined eight batters with no hits or walks allowed.

Justin Bench had a career day at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a career-high five RBI and three runs scored. Tim ElkoJacob Gonzalez and TJ McCants each had two hits. The latter two each finished with three runs.

After an hour rain delay, the Tigers threatened in the opening frame when Jaylen Wilbon walked and Ian Biblioni reached via a single. After a strikeout by All-American catcher Hunter Goodman, Memphis got on the board first with a hit from Howell and a throwing error by Gonzalez, allowing the Tigers to get a quick 2-0 lead. McDaniel responded by striking out the next two batters and stranding Howell at third base.

The Rebels answered by loading the bases courtesy of three walks by Carson Stinnett. A fourth walk issued to Cael Baker gave Ole Miss their first run of the evening to make it a 2-1 game. Stinnett caught Hayden Leatherwood looking and struck out the side, ending the inning with three Rebels on the basepaths.

Memphis had runners in scoring position once again in the top of the second, runners at the corners and one out. Another Rebel error proved costly yet again as McDaniel couldn’t corral a bunt, allowing Chris Swanberg to score and go up 3-1. A 4-6-3 double-play ended the top half of the inning. Stinnett walked Ben Van Cleve and McCants to begin the bottom half of the second, setting up Gonzalez with a two-RBI double to tie the game 3-3. Gonzalez also scored from third after Bench’s RBI single to take Ole Miss’ first lead of the game at 4-3.

McDaniel made quick work of the Tigers to begin the third inning after seven pitches, setting up a productive bottom half inning for the Rebels. Hayden Dunhurst started things off with a leadoff single to right field off of new pitcher Dalton Kendrick. Ole Miss once again loaded the bases with no outs. After a pop up by Van Cleve, McCants’ two-RBI single scored Baker and Dunhurst. With Gonzalez aboard via walk, Bench had a three-RBI triple and later scored on a fielder’s choice. After three hits and six runs, the Rebels led 10-3 three innings in.

With two outs and Max Hildreth on base via walk, a single and a throwing error put Hildreth on third base. Hildreth then scored unearned on a passed ball. New Memphis pitcher Reed Harding came in the bottom half of the fourth and took care of Baker and Leatherwood with consecutive fly outs. After a ground-rule double by Van Cleve, McCants struck out, but a throwing error by the catcher allowed Van Cleve to score to make it an 11-4 Rebel lead.

Kimbrell came out of the bullpen for McDaniel to begin the fifth inning and went 1-2-3 through the Memphis order. Three consecutive walks by Chase Kessinger out of the Memphis bullpen loaded the bases for the fourth time and one out, forcing Bailey Wimberley to immediately succeed Kessinger. Following a strikeout of Baker, Wimberley walked Leatherwood and tacked on another run for the Rebels to make it 12-4. A pop-up ended the inning.

After a quick top half of the sixth inning, McCants singled off the Memphis pitcher for another Rebel hit. Drew Edwards came out of the bullpen for Memphis and gave up a single to Gonzalez. After Gonzalez and McCants advanced to second and third base, respectively, Bench used a sac-fly to extend the lead. Gonzalez later scored when Kevin Graham reached on a fielding error and gave Ole Miss their first double-digit lead of the season, up 14-4.

Fast forward to the eighth inning, Holston made his first appearance on the mound this season and struck out two of three batters. After a hard-hit ball by Bench resulted in an infield single, Elko launched his first home run of the season to left field to make it a 12-run Rebel advantage. Holston shut the door striking out the side of the ninth inning, moving Ole Miss to 6-2 on the season.

The Rebels will turn around tomorrow to take on Jackson State at Swayze Field. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. CT and can be seen on SECN+ or listened to on the Ole Miss Radio Network.

QUICK HITS
– Ole Miss now leads the all-time series vs. Memphis 98-55
– TJ McCants drove in his first two career runs as part of a 2-for-3 day.
– Jackson Kimbrell made his fourth appearance on the mound, most among Rebel relievers. Kimbrell is yet to allow a run in 8.2 innings of work in 2021.
– Ole Miss had 14 walks, most since against Jacksonville State in the 2019 NCAA Oxford Regional championship round (15).
– Justin Bench had a career-high five RBI, the most by a Rebel this season.
– Bench extended his hitting streak to six games. He has hit .458 (11-for-24) in that span with a double, a triple, a home run and 11 RBI.
– Tim Elko hit his first home run of the season in the eighth inning (2-run).
– Greer Holston struck out 3 batters, his most since May 27, 2018 against LSU in the SEC Tournament championship round