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Ole Miss makes a statement with victory over Vanderbilt

Published: May. 17, 2021 at 12:02 AM CDT
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OXFORD, Miss. - Ole Miss bombarded No. 2 Vanderbilt for 13 runs on 12 hits, including four home runs, to claim a key Southeastern Conference series victory, 13-10, on Sunday.

The Rebels erupted for a 10-run third inning, which the Commodores countered with five in the fourth. Then the bullpen trio of Jackson Kimbrell (W 5-0), Jack Dougherty and Taylor Broadway paved the way to victory, limiting the dangerous Vanderbilt offense to three runs on five hits the rest of the way.

Jacob Gonzalez and Hayden Dunhurst each recorded three hits with a combined three home runs. Gonzalez finished Sunday afternoon perfect at the plate at 3-for-3 with two walks, three runs scored and two home runs, the first multi-homer game of his career. In the leadoff spot in a new-look Rebel lineup, TJ McCants went 2-for-5 and scored three runs while Cael Baker hit his fourth home run of the season to take the lead after an early deficit.

Kimbrell finished with the longest Ole Miss relief outing of the season, going 3.2 innings while giving up three hits and two runs with three strikeouts. Starter Drew McDaniel went the same distance with five strikeouts. Dougherty was key out of the bullpen as well, taking the baton from Kimbrell and escaping a jam with an inning-ending strikeout. Pitching with a four-run lead, Broadway allowed one run but notched back-to-back strikeouts to end the game, closing the book on a Rebel with for the 17th time this season.

McDaniel started things off strong, going 1-2-3 through the top of the Vanderbilt order while the Rebels looked to capitalize offensively off two free passes given to Gonzalez and Kevin Graham. With two outs, Justin Bench hit a line drive directly to Tate Kolwyck at second base to conclude the first inning.

Parker Noland came aboard in the second after a one-out single just past Peyton Chatagnier into right field. A balk pushed Nolan to second, but he wouldn’t get any further after a strikeout of Spencer Jones. After consecutive strikeouts by Patrick Reilly, Hayden Leatherwood got Ole Miss’ first hit of the game, a single up the middle. The following at-bat saw Baker almost take one out of the yard, but a catch by Enrique Bradfield Jr. at the warning track put Vanderbilt at the plate after two complete.

The Commodores threatened again in the third with back-to-back singles, putting runners at second and third after a throwing error and stolen base. Dominic Keegan brought them both home with an two-RBI single up the middle, giving Vanderbilt an early 2-0 lead going into the bottom half of the inning.

But after Vanderbilt drew first blood, the Rebel bats answered back in a big way. McCants led it off with a single and advanced to second on a throwing error. Walks issued to Gonzalez and Graham loaded the bases with one out, setting up Bench with a two-RBI double off the bullpen wall in left field. Hunter Owen came out of the bullpen to relieve starter Patrick Reilly with the game tied at two. Ole Miss took its first lead of the game on the following at-bat. Dunhurst roped one down the right field line to score two more and make it a 4-2 ball game.

The Rebels weren’t done after two free passes given to Ben Van Cleve and Hayden Leatherwood loaded the bases again. Dunhurst scored on a wild pitch while Baker hit moon shot to the air in left field that kept carrying into the bullpen. Baker’s home run added three more and made it 8-2, Rebels. Gonzalez added a homer of his own to right field to add two more, putting an exclamation point on an inning where the Rebels scored 10 runs off five hits and two errors.

Vanderbilt responded by chipping into the deficit. After a one-out double by Isaiah Thomas, Kolwyck’s RBI single made it a seven-run gap. Another single and a walk loaded the bases, bringing Austin Miller out of the Rebel bullpen. Carter Young seized on the opportunity with a towering grand slam to right field, suddenly making it a three-run, 10-7, game in the fourth inning. The Commodores put two more on base, forcing Kimbrell to come out of the Rebel bullpen and get out of the inning. Noland lined out to Graham to stop the bleeding. The Rebels added a double by Van Cleve but failed to extend their lead.

After a one-hit top half of the fifth from Kimbrell, the Rebels capitalized off a one-out single by McCants with an RBI base knock from Gonzalez. His second hit of the game made it 11-7, Ole Miss. Bradfield added his second hit of the game with a leadoff single to start the sixth, but Kimbrell kept Vanderbilt down for a third straight scoreless inning, pinning the nation’s top base stealer at first with a strikeout and two flyouts. Dunhurst extended the lead with a no-doubter home run to right field to give Ole Miss a 12-7 lead going into the seventh, where both Kimbrell and Nick Maldonado went 1-2-3 through the opposing lineup.

Kolwyck launched a leadoff home run to left field to cut the deficit to four once again to begin the eighth inning. Kimbrell responded with a strikeout but issued a walk to Bradfield to bring Dougherty into the game. The true freshman struck out Young before yielding an RBI double to Keegan. Dougherty came right back and struck out Maxwell Romaro Jr. to give his team a golden chance to add insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth.

Gonzalez did just that with a solo bomb to right field, his second of the game and fourth Ole Miss homer of the afternoon, setting up Broadway with a chance to preserve a four-run lead going into the ninth. The Commodores immediately placed two runners on with no outs. A sac fly by Jones scored Noland to get it back to a three-run deficit, but Broadway delivered with consecutive strikeouts to take the series from the reigning national champions.

The Rebels take Swayze Field for the final time of the regular season on Tuesday, May 18, to take on UT Martin. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. CT

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