OXFORD, Miss. - No. 3 Ole Miss baseball scored early and often en route to a dominant 20-6 victory over the North Alabama Lions at Swayze Field on Monday.
Justin Bench and Knox Loposer both went 3-for-5 at the plate with a combined four RBI and runs. Kevin Graham extended his on-base streak to 21 games. Graham finished Monday going 2-for-3 at the plate with a team-high five RBI and his fifth home run of the season. In total, five different Rebels recorded multiple hits.
A scary moment occurred in the fourth inning when Rebels captain Tim Elko collapsed to the ground and grabbed his right knee while trying to make the turn towards second on a UNA throwing error. The senior had to be helped off the field and was later seen in the dugout on crutches. Mike Bianco said afterwards that Elko will undergo an MRI on Tuesday.
On the mound, Josh Mallitz (W, 3-1) went three innings and surrendered five hits while striking out four. Mallitz allowed just two runs (one unearned), both of which came in the third inning. After working his way out of an early jam.
Right out of the gate, the Lions threatened with back-to-back hits to get in scoring position with one out. Mallitz made it through the opening frame with no further damage thanks to a strikeout and line out to Gonzalez. The Rebels drew first blood as Chatagnier’s leadoff single paid off after an RBI single by Graham in the three-spot.
After giving up another hit in the top of the second, Ole Miss had another leadoff hit courtesy of Bench, who doubled and later stole third base. Back-to-back RBI triples from Loposer and McCants gave Ole Miss a 3-0 lead with one out in the second inning. That was only the beginning of the fireworks.
McCants scored on a wild pitch while Graham followed up a Gonzalez single with a three-run bomb, his third jack of the season. Yet another Rebel triple by Bench and another hit by Loposer brought in a combined three more runs gave Ole Miss a 10-0 lead after two complete. In total, Ole Miss had nine runs on seven hits in the second inning alone.
The Lions recorded multiple hits for the second time in three innings and scored their first run of the game on a sac fly by Peyton Thomas that scored Drew Hudson. A fielding error allowed another North Alabama run, but Mallitz struck out the side and ended the top half of the third.
A pair of walks and a Gonzalez single loaded the bases with no outs. A third walk allowed Chatagnier to score while a Dunhurst two-RBI single brought home Graham and Gonzalez, giving Ole Miss a 13-2 lead after three complete.
Cody Adcock came out of the Rebel bullpen to begin the fourth inning and walked the leadoff batter, Kevin Brenning. After retiring the next two Lion batters, Garrett Smith launched a two-run homer to left field to make it a nine-run deficit. The Rebels responded at the plate by immediately getting two on after a Loposer single and McCants reaching via error. With one out, the Rebels loaded the bases after Gonzalez got beaned. Loposer scored on a sac fly to give Ole Miss a 14-4 lead. A throwing error allowed two more to score before the inning ended.
After giving up a pair of hits and nothing else in the top of the fifth, pinch hitter John Rhys Plumlee hit a single and later scored on an RBI double from McCants. Another fielding error by the Lions scored two Rebel runs and made it a 19-4 ball game. Both teams traded a run apiece in the sixth inning as Mitch Murrell got the final three outs on the mound, triggering the run rule.
The Rebels will make a turn around to face Alcorn State a second time on Tuesday, April 6, at Swayze Field. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. CT