ARLINGTON, Tx. - Three games in to the 2021 season, the Rebels proved why they are the No. 1 college baseball team in all the land, even in Monday’s victory over the Texas Longhorns. Derek Diamond (1-0) put on a show as Ole Miss (3-0) knocked off the Longhorns 8-1 at Globe Life Park, getting the three game sweep in the 2021 State Farm College Baseball Showdown.
In six innings, Diamond struck out eight batters, including a streak of nine retired batters in the middle innings. He yielded on run on four hits while freshmen Brandon Johnson and Josh Mallitz capped off the weekend out of the bullpen.
Peyton Chatagnier put together another outstanding offensive performance, going 3-for-4 from the plate and scoring two runs while Trey LaFleur went 2-for-4 with a solo home run. Jacob Gonzalez and Kevin Graham each finished with two runs a piece while Kevin Graham and Tim Elko added more. The Rebels finished with nine hits to finish their trip in Arlington.
It took just two pitches for leadoff hitter Chatagnier to make his way on base with a line drive double to left field. After a passed ball, he advanced to third base just like that. A sacrifice fly by Gonzalez would give the Rebels an early 1-0 lead. Elko later reached via single, but a groundout by Hayden Dunhurst ended the top half of the inning. Diamond answered by striking out three of the first four Texas batters with the exception of Eric Kennedy, hitting a double out of the two-hole.
After Kolby Kubichek quickly retired Ben Van Cleve, Hayden Leatherood and Justin Bench, the Longhorns had runners on second and third base with one out following a bean and single, respectively. Diamond proceeded to strikeout the first two batters, including a 1-2-3 strike pitch to Faltine to end the inning.
LaFleur began the third inning with a one pitch double down the right field line. He then stole third after a strikeout of Chatagnier. However the top half ended abruptly after LaFleur was caught stealing by a rundown to home while Gonzalez eventually struck out. Diamond used nine pitches to get out of the inning, including a pair of strikeouts. Through three innings, Diamond had seven total strikeouts while retiring six straight batters.
Graham immediately reached first base after being hit by pitch and later made his way to third after a balk and wild pitch. Kubichek managed to get off the mound unscathed after retiring Elko, Dunhurst and Vancleve. Diamond continued to dominate by retiring three more batters with the final out of the inning coming on an acrobatic 6-3 play by Gonzalez.
Kubichek began the fifth inning going 1-2-3 through the Ole Miss order while Cam Williams later got Texas on the board for the first time. His solo home run deep into the seats at right field tied the game 1-1. With two outs and Trey Faltine on base via walk, Kennedy’s deep shot to right field was caught right at the wall by Leatherwood, ending the inning.
Chatagnier doubled a 2-0 pitch to left field to start the sixth inning. With Gordon in to pitch for Kubichek after five innings, Graham scored Chatagnier on an RBI single to go up 2-1. Lucas Gordon then beaned Elko, leaving the bases loaded with no outs. After just 13 pitches, Gordon was replaced by Drew Shifflet. Dunhurst scored Gonzalez on a sacrifice fly to give Ole Miss a 3-1 which, which was later changed to 5-1 after a 2RBI single by Bench, scoring Elko and Graham. After an explosive top inning, the Rebels tallied four runs on three hits. Diamond retired three of the next four Longhorn batters.
Justin Eckhardt came out of the bullpen for the Longhorns as Ole Miss again threatened with runners at the corners with two outs, but a groundout quashed their chances of expanding their lead. Brandon Johnson replaced Diamond for his first collegiate debut after a valiant six inning performance by Diamond. Johnson picked up where Diamond left off, retiring three consecutive batters, including two strikeouts.
Eckhardt made quick work of the Rebels in the top of the eighth inning, but his team continued to score runs as Johnson answered a double by retiring three batters.
Ole Miss made sure to finish strong and put the exclamation point on a strong 2021 start. Trey LaFleur took the first pitch of the ninth and went yard with a solo shot. That was followed by a Gonzalez RBI triple that scored Garrett Wood and Gonzalez followed that up with a run of his own. Mallitz was called upon to shut the door in his collegiate debut and did so, leaving Ole Miss with three top-10 wins in three days.
The Rebels return to Swayze Field for the first time in 11 months when they face Arkansas State on Wednesday, February 24. First pitch is set for 4 p.m. and can be seen on SEC Network+