Photo credit: Ole Miss Athletics
OXFORD– Ole Miss defeated a hapless Xavier club, 13-3, on Sunday to complete a series sweep and cap a weekend of domination.
The Rebels’ pitching staff allowed just three runs on eight hits over 26 innings in the three games. The Musketeers did not plate a run in the series until the third inning of Sunday’s game. True freshman right-hander Derek Diamond turned in five innings of one-run, three-hit baseball. His lone mistake came on misplaced breaking ball in a 1-2 count, an offering that Kody Darcy deposited over the right field wall to give Xavier its only lead of the weekend at 1-0 in the top of the third. Diamond notched two scoreless frames after the homer run and has looked the part through two starts after earning a weekend rotation spot as a true freshman. He struck out six and did not issue a walk.
“I feel very comfortable,” Diamond said. “There wasn’t much adrenaline this weekend as there was a on opening weekend, playing No. 1 Louisville, but I talked to Gunnar and Doug just as much this week as I did last week about coming out and how to handle all of it.”
Mike Bianco wanted see his club pitch better after allowing eight runs to Alcorn State in the midweek, and, at times, looking pedestrian of the bullpen in the team’s series win over No. 1 Louisville last weekend. Ole Miss overpowered the Musketeers on the hill in each of the three games. The staff recorded 29 strikeouts through the first two games and 34 for the weekend. Aside from Xaivier notching two runs in the seventh inning against struggling reliever Greer Houston, in a game that was well out of reach, the pitching staff allowed one run on six hits in 25 innings.
“Obviously, we did that,” Bianco said. “We were competitive on the mound in the previous four games leading in, but we were given up too many hits. We were able to check that box off.”
Cael Baker evened the score with a solo shot to dead away center field in the bottom of the third, his second long ball of the weekend and third of the season. Ole Miss then removed the result from question with an eight-run fifth inning. The Rebels blasted four home runs in the finale, cultivating with a Hayden Leatherwood two-run shot in the eighth to end the game via an agreed upon ten-run rule. Peyton Chatagnier recorded his first career home run with a solo shot to left in the fifth and Anthony Servideo clubbed his fourth of the season when he struck a three-run home run to center field to wrap up the damaging fifth inning. Servideo is 10-21 with 8 RBIs to begin the 2020 campaign and is slugging .952 with an 1.585 OPS in the leadoff slot.
“I thought we were pretty sharp in all three phases for three games in a row,” Bianco said. “We haven’t been able to do that.”
Ole Miss hit nine home runs in the series and scored 35 runs on 28 hits. The Rebels committed just two errors on the weekend.
What is to be taken away from this weekend? Well, as Bianco alluded to, the club pitched it well. Aside from Holston’s struggles late in Sunday’s win, one of the none of the 10 pitcher that toed the rubber labored for an extended period of time. As inept as the Musketeers were at the plate, Ole Miss pitched three clean games. The pitchers threw strikes and all three starters showed plus command of their secondary stuff. Doug Nikhazy and Gunnar Hoglund are benefitting from sharper sliders and Diamond isn’t using his fastball as a crutch, as some freshmen do when making the transition from high school to the SEC.
“We played three really good games in a row,” Bianco said. “That was good to see.”
Ole Miss hosts Southern Miss on Tuesday at Swayze Field. Wes Burton will start for the Rebels. First pitch is slated for 4 P.M.