Ole Miss comes up short at Florida for first series loss
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Despite roaring back late, No. 2 Ole Miss (21-6, 7-2 SEC) couldn’t quite complete the rally and dropped their first SEC series of the season with a 6-5 defeat on the road to the No. 15 Florida Gators on Saturday.
Derek Diamond went four innings while surrendering six hits, five runs and recording two strikeouts. Drew McDaniel, Jackson Kimbrell and Austin Miller gave the Rebels a chance late by surrendering just two hits and two walks. However, the Rebels stranded 10 runners on base despite recording 11 hits.
Kevin Graham and Tim Elko each recorded three hits, going 3-for-5 and 3-for-4, respectively while Hayden Dunhurst went 2-for-5 with two RBI. The trio each gave the Rebels a fighting chance in the ninth inning, but Florida held on after being in danger of letting their good start be all for not.
Right out of the gate, Graham extended his hit and on-base streak with a two-out single to left field, but a pop up ended the opening frame. The Gators again threatened early with runners at the corners with no outs after a single by Nathan Hickey. Jacob Young got Florida on the board first with a sac fly by Kirby McMullen, but a pair of ground outs prevented any further damage.
The Rebels had a golden opportunity to get on the board to begin the second inning after a Dunhurst leadoff single and an HBP issued to Ben Van Cleve put two on with no outs. Hunter Barco worked his way through the situation with two fly outs and a strikeout. Florida found itself in scoring position yet again, but all to no avail.
After quickly going through the Ole Miss order, Young reached a second time with a leadoff triple, setting him up to score yet again with yet another sac fly courtesy of Hickey and the Gators had a 2-0 lead going into the fourth inning. Barco worked his way through the top of the fourth while Jordan Carrion extended the Gator lead with a solo homer to left field, making it a 3-0 ball game. Colby Halter threatened with a base hit, but Diamond struck out Cal Greenfield to end the fourth.
Back-to-back singles from Justin Bench and TJ McCants with Plumlee beaned loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth. Peyton Chatagnier hit into a double-play, but still allowed Bench to score the first Ole Miss run of the game. Plumlee scored a second Rebel run on a Jacob Gonzalez single to cut the Rebel deficit 3-2. Florida proceeded to undo that progress with a single from Young and another Gator home run courtesy of Hickey, making it a three-run deficit again. An RBI single by Jordan Butler gave Florida its largest lead of the game.
A leadoff walk issued to Elko forced Trey Van Der Weide to come out of the Gator bullpen. A throwing error allowed Dunhurst to reach as well, but only Elko was still left on base after Van Cleve hit into a double play. Another throwing error by the Gators allowed Justin Bench to reach and Elko to score to make it a 6-3 deficit. Ole Miss had had a chance for more after a McCants walk. However, Plumlee lined out to third base, ending the top of the sixth. McDaniel proceeded to go 1-2-3 through the Gator lineup to end the sixth inning.
With two outs in the seventh, Graham and Elko hit back-to-back singles with Dunhurst at the plate and a chance to cut into the deficit again. Dunhurst delivered with a two-RBI triple down the right field line and made it a 6-5 Rebel deficit. Van Der Weide then proceeded to hit Van Cleve with a pitch and put runners at the corners, forcing Florida to make multiple position changes as well as putting the shortstop Carrion on the mound. A ground out stopped the bleeding.
Kimbrell and Miller kept the Gators down out of the bullpen until the ninth inning, where Ole Miss was down its final three outs. Pinch runner Cade Sammons became the tying run on first after a one-out single by Graham to right field. Elko followed that up with a single of his own on a 1-2 pitch, bringing in Ryan Cabarcas out of the Gator bullpen to record the final two outs. He delivered as Dunhurst and Clavin Harris flew out, sealing the series win for Florida.
The Rebels will be back in action on Monday, April 5, to begin a six-game homestand at Swayze Field, taking on North Alabama. First pitch is set for 4 p.m. CT
Copyright 2021 WLBT. All rights reserved.