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Big 2nd inning propels Rebels over TCU

SOURCE: Ole Miss Athletics
SOURCE: Ole Miss Athletics(Ole Miss Athletics)
Published: Feb. 20, 2021 at 8:58 PM CST
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ARLINGTON, Tx. - After a long and unprecedented hiatus on the diamond, No. 4 Ole Miss made it all worth the wait on Saturday in the second game of the State Farm Classic. The Rebels used a four-run second inning to start fast and held on the rest of the way to knock off the No. 10 TCU Horned Frogs 7-3.

Doug Nikhazy was relieved by Jackson Kimbrell (1-0) after 1.2 innings pitched and faced 10 batters with four strikeouts. Taylor Broadway pitched the final four innings in long relief with 61 pitches and came away with the save. Broadway allowed one hit and struck out five of 13 betters.

Offensively, Ben Van Cleve led the way, going 2-for-3, including a two-RBI double to spark a key four-run second inning for the Rebels. Peyton Chatagnier went 2-for-5 at the plate with three runs batted in while Hayden Dunhurst went 2-for-4 and scored two runs while driving one home, helping Ole Miss win their 17th consecutive game dating back to Feb. 15 of last season.

TCU ace Johnny Ray started things off retiring 1-2-3 with three consecutive strikeouts and Nikhazy responded by striking out three of the first four batters. Hunter Wolfe roped a hit deep into left field for TCU’s first hit of the season out of the three-hole, but Nikhazy left him stranded.

Ray began the second inning walking Kevin Graham and Hayden Leatherwood and beaning Justin Bench, loading the bases with no outs. The Rebels proceeded to bust the game open. Van Cleve drew first blood with an RBI double while Dunhurst singled to right field to give Ole Miss an early 3-0 lead with no outs. Van Cleve later crossed home plate to make it a 4-0 game after Trey LaFleur hit into a double play.

Horned Frog designated hitter Austin Henry drilled a 1-2 pitch off the wall deep into right field to to begin the bottom of the second inning while Gray Rodgers walked and Luke Boyers singled out to third, loading the bases with two outs. After a walked issued to Elijah Nunez, Tommy Sacco and Wolfe, the Horned Frogs scored their first three runs of the season. Bianco then turned to Kimbrell on the mound with bases loaded and two outs. Kimbrell struck out the first batter he faced to prevent any further damage as Ole Miss led 4-3 after two complete.

After a groundout by Jacob Gonzalez, Tim Elko singled out to left field and eventually advanced to second base on a wild pitch. After a walk by Graham, the Rebels had runners on first and second. Ole Miss was unable to capitalize as a double play ended the top of the inning. Kimbrell proceeded to strikeout two TCU batters while Dunhurst threw out Rodgers at first after being walked.

After a strikeout, line out and groundout from Ole Miss, TCU threatened with runners on first an third with two outs, but a groundout to second base ended the inning.

After two consecutive strikeouts from new pitcher Haylen Green, Gonzalez singled out to center field, only to get thrown out trying to steal second, ending the top half off the fifth inning.  Drew McDaniel came in to replace Kimbrell after giving up a single through the right side. Rodgers hit another single to the other side, but two fly balls ended the fifth.

Green took care of the next three Rebel batters, giving TCU a chance to take their first lead of the game in the bottom of the sixth inning. With Taylor Broadway in to pitch for the Rebels, a groundout by Sacco put Nunez and Boyers on second and third with one out. After striking out Wolfe, Wood was beaned with a pitch, leaving the bases loaded with two outs. A groundout would retire the side.

Looking to add some insurance in the top of the seventh, Van Cleve singled to left center field and Dunhurst found the base path after a fielding error. With two outs and Green in to pitch for TCU, Chatagnier’s RBI double scored Dunhurst and John Rhys Plumee, pinch running for Van Cleve, extending Ole Miss’ lead 6-3. Broadway cleaned up the rest of the inning with three straight retired.

After Hill made quick work of the Rebels in the top of the Rebels in the top of the eighth, TCU failed to capitalize going into the game’s final inning.

Hill struck out Cade Sammons and Plumlee before singles from Dunhurst and LaFleur gave Ole Miss an opportunity to go up by more. It was once again Chatagnier who knocked in a run with an RBI single to left field, scoring Dunhurst. After striking out Gonzalez, the Horned Frogs had a hill to climb late. Broadway took care of the final three TCU batters to win secure the season-opening win.

The Rebels will turn around tomorrow and face No. 3 ranked Texas Tech on the diamond. First pitch is set for 3 p.m. CT

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