Ole Miss Baseball: No.1 Rebels drop home series to No.24 UCF

Coach Mike Bianco and No.1 Ole Miss baseball were back in action over the weekend in a three-game series at Swayze Field against No.24 ranked UCF. 

No.1 Ole Miss baseball (5-2), coming off a 12-1 midweek home win over Arkansas State was back in action over the weekend. The Rebels were hosting the No.24 ranked UCF Knights (3-4) in a three-game series. After picking up a  sweep in the State Farm College Baseball Showdown, and being ranked No.1 by Baseball America on Monday the Rebels needed to continue winning.

However, the Rebels fell short of what was expected by fans this weekend. The Rebels season-opening home series was ugly. The Knights picked up the series-opening 3-2 win. The Rebels managed to get the 6-5 game-two win in the first game of the Saturday double-header but dropped game-three 7-2 to No.24 UCF losing the series. OHT looks at the weekend by the numbers.

Game-one

The Rebels opened up their first series of the season Friday. The Rebels fell 3-2 to the No.24 UCF Knights. The No.1 ranked Rebels combined for 2 runs on 7 hits against the Knights. In the game, there were 2 Rebels who had multiple-hit games.

Justin Bench and Hayden Dunhurst (1 HR) each went 2 for 4 at the plate with Dunhurst logging 1 RBI and 1 run scored. Bench had 1 stolen base in the game.

Ben Van Cleve and Cael Baker each went 1 for 3 in the game while Hayden Leatherwood went 1 for 4 at the plate. Van Cleve had 1 run scored while Baker logged 1 RBI.

On the hill, LHP Doug Nikhazy (0-1) drew the start. Nikhazy went for 6.1 innings allowing 2 earned runs on 3 hits with 9 Ks, 1 BB, and 1 HBP. Coach Mike Bianco went to his bullpen in the seventh and RHP Austin Miller entered. Miller went for 1.2 innings allowing just 1 hit. RHP Taylor Broadway entered in the ninth and allowed 1 run on 2 hits with 1 K.

Game-two

In game two, the first game of the Saturday doubleheader, the Rebels picked up the 6-5 win. There were 9 Rebels who combined for 6 runs on 10 hits. Leading all Rebels at the plate was Jacob Gonzalez who went 2 for 5. Next up was Trey Lafleur who went 1 for 1 (1 HR) with 1 RBI and 1 run scored. Calvin Harris also went 1 for 1 and added 1 run scored. Hayden Leatherwood went 1 for 3 (1 HR) with 2 RBI and 1 run scored.

Cael Baker went 1 for 3 with 1 RBI and 1 run scored. Hayden Dunhurst, Tim Elko, and Justin Bench each went 1 for 4 against the Knights. Dunhurst had 1 run scored while Bench had 1 RBI and 1 run scored. Elko had 1 RBI. Kevin Graham went 1 for 5.

On the mound, RHP Gunnar Hoglund took the start. Hoglund went for 7.0  innings and allowed 2 earned runs on 6 hits with 10 Ks and 1 HBP. RHP Josh Mallitz entered in the eighth and faced 2 batters allowing 1 earned run with 1 BB.

Coach Bianco went to the bullpen and RHP Braden Forsyth entered. Forsyth went 0.1 innings allowing 1 earned run on 1 hit with 1 K and 2 BBs. LHP Jackson Kimbrell (W, 2-0) would also enter in the eighth and go the distance over 1.2 innings. Kimbrell allowed 3 hits with 2 Ks.

Game-three

In the final game of the series and game two of the doubleheader Saturday, the Rebels fell 7-2 to UCF. There were 4 Rebels hitters who combined for 2 runs on 7 hits. Leading all Rebels at the plate was Justin Bench who went 3 for 4 (1 HR) with 1 RBI and 2 runs scored. Hayden Dunhurst went 2 for 4 while Jacob Gonzalez and Calvin Harris each went 1 for 4.

RHP Derek Diamond (L, 1-1) picked up the start for Mike Bianco and the Rebels. Diamond went for 5.2 innings allowing 4 earned runs on 8 hits with 9 Ks and 1 HBP. LHP Luke Baker entered in the sixth and went for 1.0 inning allowing 3 earned runs on 2 hits with 2 Ks and 1 HBP.

RHP Brandon Johnson entered and faced 3 batters in the seventh inning allowing 1 hit with 1 BB and 1 HBP. RHP Cody Adcock entered next and went for 0.2 innings allowing 1 hit and 2 BBs. RHP Cole Baker finished out the game for the Rebels going 1.2 innings allowing 0 hits with 4 Ks.

The new Baseball America rankings come out Monday and it will be interesting to see just how far the Rebels fall. The Rebels started off the season very strong and played some great baseball. Then they ran into the UCF Knights. The Rebels will get better as a result of this weekend and the series loss.

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Coach Mike Bianco and No.1 Ole Miss baseball will be back in action in a midweek matchup against Memphis (4-0). First-pitch from Swayze Field is set for Tuesday at 4:00 pm CT. Good luck to coach Mike Bianco and the Rebels. As always, stay safe and Hotty Toddy!