Leiter shuts down Rebels to even series
OXFORD, Miss. - Despite a promising start from Derek Diamond on the mound, the Commodores caught fire, belting seven home runs while Jack Leiter dominated and No. 2 Vanderbilt knocked off No. 14 Ole Miss, 13-2, to even the weekend series at Swayze Field.
Diamond (L 3-4) struck out seven Vanderbilt batters in 4.1 IP, giving up five hits with four leaving the yard, the other a bunt single. The Rebel bullpen of Tyler Myers, Brandon Johnson and Cody Adcock struck out a total of five while surrendering eight hits. Offensively, five different Rebels recorded a hit with Jacob Gonzalez and Hayden Dunhurst each scoring a run. Justin Bench was the only Ole Miss batter to knock in a run after being stifled for the majority of play by Leiter, who struck out 13 when it was all said and done.
Things started off with Diamond getting Enrique Bradfield Jr. in an 0-2 count before walking him. However, after a few pickoff attempts, Dunhurst threw a rocket to second base, catching Bradfield, the nation’s stolen-base leader, stealing second. Diamond retired the next two batters to close the opening half inning. Gonzalez reached in the leadoff spot with a walk, but Leiter used a double play and a three-pitch out to conclude the first inning.
With two outs in the second, Isaiah Thomas struck again with his second solo home run of the series to give Vanderbilt its first lead of the game and series, 1-0. Leiter gave another free pass in the bottom half of the inning but made it through another inning without any hits given up.
After a 1-2-3 third inning for Diamond, Gonzalez got Ole Miss’ first hit of the game with a two-out single to right field. A strikeout at the knees of Peyton Chatagnier ended the third.
A leadoff walk to Carter Young led to another Vanderbilt homer, a two-run shot by Dominic Keegan to extend the lead 3-0 to begin the fourth inning. With two outs and Parker Noland aboard via walk, Spencer Jones added a homer of his own to deep right center field to make it 5-0 Commodores going into the bottom half of the inning. Leiter hit Kevin Graham with a leadoff pitch, extending Graham’s on-base streak, but Leiter took care of the rest going into the fifth inning.
Yet another Vanderbilt hit resulted in the ball leaving the yard as Troy LaNeve hit one to right center field and made it a 6-0 deficit for the Rebels. With Young and Bradfield aboard with one out, Myers came out of the Rebel bullpen to stop the bleeding. Myers delivered the final two outs, but Leiter got through the fifth inning with three consecutive strikeouts.
With Thomas and Jones aboard, a sac bunt by Tate Kolwyck set up LaNeve with an RBI single to extend Vanderbilt’s lead to 7-0. The Rebels seemed primed to cut the deficit significantly after a single and two walks loaded the bases with no outs, but Leiter got through the inning with minimal damage. A wild pitch scored Gonzalez, but the Commodores held a 7-1 lead after six complete.
The Commodores created even more separation with their fifth home run of the game, a three-run shot by Parker Noland that made it a 10-1 ballgame. Johnson came out the Rebel bullpen and yielded another run before going into the bottom half of the seventh inning. Chris McElvain replaced Leiter on the mound and surrendered two walks, but no runs going into the eighth.
Vanderbilt added its sixth home run courtesy of Young while Ole Miss added a second run in the eighth inning courtesy of a Bench RBI single. Thomas added his second home run of the game and seventh overall for Vanderbilt to put an exclamation point on the win and even the weekend series.
Ole Miss looks to rebound and win the series in Sunday’s rubber match. First pitch is set for 2 p.m. and can be seen on SEC Network.
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