By Adam Brown
No. 1 Ole Miss Rebels offense rolled against the Arkansas State Red Wolves 12-1 on Wednesday in the home opener.
“It’s hard to argue when you score 12 runs,” head coach Mike Bianco said. “Certainly, they opened up the door for us with some errors.”
Ole Miss (4-0) scored in every inning but two, with three runs in the third, fifth and eighth innings. The Rebels were led at the plate by Kevin Graham who went 3-for-4 with three runs and two RBIs.
“Really good (at the plate),” Graham said. “I felt that in Texas my swing path was a little off. (Coach) Clem and I — last night and today before the game — really worked on getting that back to normal and felt really good out there tonight.”
Ole Miss also dominated on the mound, starting with Drew McDaniel getting his first start. McDaniel made it tough for the Red Wolves through the first three innings by not allowing a hit.
“(McDaniel) Dominated the way he has been all fall and early spring,” Bianco said.
Senior Cole Baker made his return to the lineup for the first time this season and in his second at-bat, he hit a two-run home run to left field.
“It was nice to have ‘Bake’ back as he jumped on a fastball,” Bianco said.
Arkansas State’s (0-1) lone run came in the fourth inning off the barrel of Liam Hicks on the Rebels starter McDaniel.
McDaniel (1-0) worked 4.1 innings and allowed one run on two hits. He struck out eight batters.
“It was really fun, and I had a blast,” McDaniel said. “It helped that I started most of the fall and spring. It helped that I knew the approach to it. It felt like it did in the spring and it was a blast.”
As a pitching staff, the Rebels recorded 18 strikeouts against the Red Wolves with Jackson Kimbrell (2), Cody Adcock (3), Wes Burton (2) and Tyler Myers (3).
The second long-ball of the night came off the bat of John Rhys Plumlee in the eighth inning as a two-run home run.
Freshman TJ McCants got the start at second base with the injury to Peyton Chatagnier. McCants went 2-for-5 as he doubled and singled with a run scored.
“It was really neat to see TJ in there,” Bianco said. “Got a couple of hits and get some swings off even before his first hit. In his first at-bat, he was aggressive and that is what I was looking for. He also had a nice turn of a double play.”
Ole Miss returns to action on Friday to start a three-game series against UCF over the weekend. The first pitch is set for 4 p.m. on SEC Network+.