By Adam Brown
No. 1 Ole Miss splits the doubleheader with the UCF Knights on Saturday by taking the first one 6-5 and dropping the second game 7-2.
Ole Miss (5-2) dropped their first series dating back to the 2019 Fayetteville Super Regional.
“(UCF) pitched really well,” head coach Mike Bianco said. “In-game three we had a lot of trouble with (Alex) Jones. They were really good. Last weekend we were able to bunch some bats together and put some innings together. They didn’t allow us to do it.”
Ole Miss rallied from two runs down in the bottom of the ninth as Trey Lafleur led the way with a solo home run to left. Two batters later Calvin Harris doubled to right and came into score on an infield single off the batt of Bench. Tim Elko hit the game-winner that plated Bench.
The Rebels starter Gunnar Hoglund rolled through the first four innings on the mound. The right-hander kept UCF batters off balance and struck out seven and only allowed one hit with one hit by pitch.
The Knights down three runs climbed back into the game in the fifth after scoring two runs on a two-RBI double off the bat of John Montes. That scored Alex Freeland and Pablo Ruiz.
Hoglund worked 7.0 complete innings allowed two runs on six hits, struck out ten batters and one hit by pitch.
“I felt good out there in the past two outs and just tried to attack and put up zeroes for the team,” Hoglund said.
Bianco called on the arm of Josh Mallitz who faced two batters with a walk. Then Branden Forsyth took over on the mound as the Knights had runners on first and second no outs.
UCF took the lead in the eighth after scoring three runs off the bat of Ben McCabe on a three-run home run.
Forsyth recorded an out in his outing allowed a run on a hit with one strikeout and two walks.
Bianco brought in Jackson Kimbrell (2-0) in the eighth as he recorded the final 1.2 outs. Kimbrell allowed three hits and no runs and struck out two batters.
UCF took advantage in the game in the second inning after a solo home run off the bat of Ben McCabe. McCabe went 3-for-4 with four runs and two RBIs.
Ole Miss’ starter Derek Diamond (1-1) was electric on the mound through the first two innings as he recorded five strikeouts. Diamond worked 5.2 innings gave up four runs on eight hits while he struck out nine UCF sluggers.
The Rebels center fielder Justin Bench scored the only two runs in the game on a solo home run in the sixth and came in on a double play off the bat of Tim Elko in the eighth. Bench finished going 3-for-4 with two runs and an RBI.
The Knights had a big inning at the plate in the seventh as they scored three runs to pick up their seventh run off the game.
Ole Miss used five pitchers in the game Luke Baker (1.0), Brandon Johnson, Cody Adcock (0.2) and Cole Baker (1.2). Baker came into the game in the eighth with bases loaded and struck out McCabe and Alex Freeland. In the ninth, he recorded two more strikeouts on UCF batters.
“(Baker) was terrific he kept the game at seven runs,” Bianco said.
The pitching staff recorded a total of 15 strikeouts in the game.
Ole Miss returns to the diamond of Swayze Field on Tuesday as they play host to the Memphis Tigers. The first pitch is set for at 4 p.m.