GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Gunnar Hoglund battled through six innings while giving up only a single earned run and three hits total, but No. 15 Florida’s Franco Aleman and Tommy Mace proved to be too much on the mound as No. 2 Ole Miss (20-5, 6-1 SEC) dropped its series opener to the Gators 4-1 Thursday evening.
Peyton Chatagnier, Kevin Graham, Tim Elko and Hayden Leatherwood each recorded a hit, with the latter scoring the lone Rebel run in the third inning on a sac fly. After a valiant effort by Hoglund, Tyler Myers and Josh Mallitz were called upon out of the Ole Miss bullpen to give the bats a chance to take the lead late, but the Rebel offense couldn’t find its rhythm as the Gators tacked on some late insurance run to protect their home field.
After Aleman quickly went 1-2-3 through the Ole Miss order to start off the evening, Jacob Young hit a leadoff double to left field. Nathan Hickey then put the Gators on the board first after a shot to center field fell just beyond the reach of TJ McCants and scored Young to give the home team an early 1-0 lead.
Two innings later, Leatherwood put the Rebels in scoring position for the first time after a leadoff single and eventually reached third after a passed ball and ground out by McCants. Leatherwood made his way home after a Chatagnier sac fly tied the game going into the bottom of the third. In the drama-filled frame, Hoglund struck out the side and stranded Jordan Carrion at third base. Graham extended his hit-streak to nine consecutive games with a leadoff single to begin the fourth inning, but the Rebels could not capitalize off Aleman.
In the fourth, back-to-back infield errors put two Florida runners at the corners with no outs. In a long at-bat with Sterlin Thompson, Hoglund finished it with a strikeout while Hayden Dunhurst threw out Kirby McMullen at third and completed the double play. Florida would still capitalize after Colby Halter’s RBI single gave the Gators a 2-1 lead going into the fifth inning. After a quick fifth, each team would get a runner on base in the sixth, but failed to score. Mace continued to retire Ole Miss batters out of the Gator bullpen while Myers came out of the Rebel bullpen and breezed his way through the seventh inning.
With one out in the eighth, McCants took four-pitch walk, but Mace’s strikeout of Justin Bench ended the top of the eighth and gave his team a chance to add insurance runs. Florida did so with back-to-back hits, the latter being Young’s RBI triple that scored Carrion. Young later scored himself to make it a 4-1 game in Florida’s favor. Mace recorded the final three outs to give the Gators the series opening win.
The Rebels will look to rebound and even the weekend series with Florida on Friday. First pitch is set for 5:30 p.m.