Massive fifth inning propels Ole Miss to sweep of Xavier

Published 3:25 pm Sunday, February 23, 2020

Tyler Keenan broke a pitching stalemate wide open and Ole Miss has swept the Xavier Musketeers.

All knotted up at 1-1 going into the bottom of the fifth, both pitching staffs were having their way. An eight run fifth inning shifted everything, rolling over the Musketeers in route to a dominant 13-3 win and series sweep.

“That’s it. Somebody breaks the ice and it makes it a little easier for the next guy,” said head coach Mike Bianco. “There’s times when you get streaky and you really (are playing) well. And we really did that this weekend.”

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The opening four innings were dominated by the pitching staffs. Only a pair of solo shot homers in the third, one by Cael Baker and one from Xavier’s Kody Darcy were the only hits that broke the stalemate early.

Ultimately, it was a Tyler Keenan deep shot in the bottom of the fifth that started the Rebel onslaught. Keenan’s ball didn’t leave the yard, but bounced off the ball in left center about three inches short of doing so, scoring runners from second and third. Keenan kicked off scoring in an inning that would see 11 Rebel plate appearances, six hits and two walks. Six different players recorded an RBI in the inning, including home runs from Peyton Chatagnier and Anthony Servideo, his fourth of the year.

The Rebels tacked on two more in the sixth on a two-run RBI single from Hayden Leatherwood.

Derek Diamond, making his second start of his career, was fantastic again for the Rebels. Diamond allowed one run on the solo shot, but struck out a career high six batters through five innings, allowing just three hits. After two starts, the young freshman’s ERA sits at 3.37.

“I felt really comfortable, felt good. Obviously, not all the adrenaline that came with weekend one playing Louisville,” Diamond said. “But I talked to Gunnar (Hoglund) and Doug (Nikhazy) as much this week as last about how to handle it. They told me a lot of it was competing with ourselves today to be the best we can be.”

Greer Holston’s tough season continued in the seventh inning. Up ten runs, Bianco brought in Holston in to give the kid who’s struggled a lot on the early year some play. Holston allowed two hits, walking two more in an inning where he allowed two Xavier runs. Not a great inning, but it’s still the best of his season, dropping his ERA on the year from 135.00 to 40.50.

In a gloomy and rainy Sunday, the teams had agreed on a ten run rule after seven innings. In the bottom of the eighth, a Hayden Leatherwood two run homer ended things with a final score of 13-3. Leatherwood finished 3 of 5 with 4 RBIs on the day.

“He was terrific. Two singles and of course the big home run at the end,” Bianco said. “We talk about the outfield being fluid with a lot of guys. But he’s certainly a guy that we count on to be an offensive threat in our lineup. So it’s nice to see him have one of those days.”

With the win, Ole Miss has recorded their first sweep of the short season. Now 5-1, Ole Miss will host Southern Miss on Tuesday.