No. 14 Ole Miss Baseball Pulls Away from Little Rock for 11th Midweek Win

Published 1:00 pm Friday, May 14, 2021

OXFORD, Miss. — Jacob Gonzalez went off on Wednesday offensively, doing a little bit of everything while helping No. 14 Ole Miss knock off Little Rock a second time this season, 9-4 at Swayze Field.

Gonzalez went 4-for-5 at the plate, including a three-run home run late to go along with a team-tying three RBI and two runs scored himself. Kevin Graham finished a perfect 3-for-3 while Cael Baker and Justin Bench each tailed two hits.

As a pitching staff, the Rebels leveled out their production across the board and struck out a total of 19 batters with just a single walk. Starter Josh Mallitz struck out six batters in just two innings of work while Austin MillerBrandon JohnsonJackson KimbrellTyler MyersWes Burton and Braden Forsyth carried Ole Miss the rest of the way. At the end of the night, Miller came away with his first win of the season (1-1).

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Mallitz started things off going 1-2-3 through the Trojan order, including consecutive strikeouts to end the opening frame. The Rebels countered with a single from Gonzalez and double from Graham, but Luke Wallner got through the inning without surrendering a run.

Little Rock’s Jake Wright reached in the second inning despite a strikeout due to a wild pitch, but Mallitz struck out the side with a four-strikeout frame. Ole Miss finally broke through after loading the bases with two outs. Peyton Chatagnier’s base-clearing double scored Gonzalez, Baker and Hayden Leatherwood while Graham also knocked in a run and gave Ole Miss a 4-0 lead after two complete.

A leadoff double by Miguel Soto to begin the third paid off for the Trojans as Jorden Hussein’s RBI single put the visitors on the board for the first time. Another single and throwing error put Mallitz in a bases-loaded situation with no outs. Miller made an early appearance out of the Rebel bullpen and got out of the jam entirely.

Johnson started the fourth inning for the Rebels on the mound and stranded two runners while his team loaded the bases once again offensively but failed to capitalize with runs. Continuing to level out the production of the bullpen, Kimbrell came out in the fifth inning and gave up a walk and single in consecutive at-bats. John Michael Russ brought both base runners home with a two-RBI double down the left field line to get the Trojans within one of the Rebels, 4-3. After quashing a chance to take the lead, the Rebels extended theirs with a sac fly from TJ McCants to score Bench and make it a 5-3 ball game.

Myers kept the Trojans down for consecutive innings while the Rebels extended their lead in the seventh inning. After being beaned, Bench advanced to second and third on an error and wild pitch, respectively. Leatherwood brought Bench home with a fielder’s choice to gain a three-run advantage. Gonzalez added to it with his career-high fourth hit: a line drive, three-run bomb to right field to give Ole Miss a 9-3 lead. Little Rock would respond with a run of its own, but Burton and Forsyth kept them at bay for the final two innings to secure another midweek victory.

The Rebels will remain at Swayze Field this weekend as they play host to No. 2 Vanderbilt for a three-game SEC series beginning Friday, May 14. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. CT and can be seen on SEC Network or listened to on the Ole Miss Radio Network.

Quick Hits
⁃ The Rebels move to 34-14 overall, 11-1 in midweek games
⁃ Ole Miss moves to 20-5 all-time against Little Rock
⁃ Kevin Graham extended his on-base streak to 41 consecutive games, reaching in 46 of 48 games this season
⁃ Justin Bench was HBP for an SEC leading 19th time this season in the seventh inning
⁃ Josh Mallitz tied a career-high with six strikeouts
⁃ Brandon Johnson made his first appearance on the mound since April 20, the first matchup against Little Rock
⁃ Gonzalez had a career-high four hit game and is currently on a nine game hitting streak
⁃ TJ McCants snapped 11 game hit streak, which led the team, as well as a 26-game reached-base streak.
⁃ As a unit, the Rebels had their 28th game with double-figure strikeouts and 32nd game with double-figure hits this season
⁃ In total, the Ole Miss pitching staff struck out 19 batters while walking just one, the best K-BB ratio this season
⁃ Ole Miss’ 19 strikeouts came as a season-high and are its most since fanning 19 against Arkansas State on Feb. 21, 2017.
⁃ Miller came away with his first win of the season