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Staff and Wire: Ole Miss wins game one at ULM, runs streak to 15



MONROE, La. – No. 5 Ole Miss baseball (15-1) faced a tough test on the road at ULM (12-4), but a big day at the plate by junior captain Tim Elko pushed the Rebels past the Warhawks with a 6-3 win. The victory extended their win streak to 15 games, tying for the second-longest in program history.

Ole Miss jumped out to an early lead on a three-run first-inning home run by Tyler Keenan, but ULM fought back to tie the game up at three through two innings. Elko broke the tie when he smashed a double into the left field corner in the sixth, and the Rebels never looked back. Elko later added a triple and scored an insurance run in the ninth.

“So much has been made of the platooning,” Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said. “We really don’t necessarily want to do that. We’re rather settle in on a lineup, but the truth is, when you’ve got that many guys, you want to give them the best opportunity to succeed. We’ve got confidence Tim can handle the right-handers and some of the left-handed guys who didn’t play today can handle the left-handers. We’re still trying to find the right lineup, but he’s put together quite a stretch here.”

Benji Gilbert made his first career start and turned in a solid performance, allowing three runs in 3.1 innings, but it was the tried-and-true bullpen trio of Taylor Broadway, Austin Miller and Braden Forsyth who brought it home, allowing no runs on just one hit with eight strikeouts and one walk over a combined 5.2 innings.

“You don’t know what to expect sometimes in the midweek,” Bianco said. “With two midweek games, and we haven’t had that yet, we go with Benji. I thought he was terrific in his first collegiate start. The baseball gods won’t make it easy on him, but we were able to take a 3-0 lead in the first with a big home run by Keenan, and he leaves the game 3-3. Broadway, Miller and Forsyth at the end, the bullpen was tremendous. Seven big zeroes in a row.”

Ole Miss wasted little time getting on the board at Warhawk Field. Anthony Servideo and Peyton Chatagnier started it with back-to-back base hits. Keenan did the rest, launching his fifth home run of the season over to left field to give the Rebels an early 3-0 lead.

However, ULM was quick to strike right back, cutting the Rebel advantage to one on a two-run home run by Danny DeSimone.

Jerrion Ealy got something going with a two-out base hit in the second. He later stole second before Servideo reached on a walk. The pair executed a double steal, but Ealy slid through the bag at third and was tagged out to end the threat.

The Warhawks tied it back up in the bottom of the second, starting with a leadoff base hit by Grant Schulz. The ULM third baseman advanced to third on consecutive groundouts before Colby Deaville drove him home on a single to right center, making it a 3-3 ballgame.

The third inning passed quietly with just one baserunner between the two teams as Keenan reached by virtue of a hit-by-pitch.

Gilbert got into some trouble in the fourth, allowing two Warhawks to reach base on a single and a walk. Broadway took the reins and quickly induced a flyout and a groundout to escape the jam unscathed. The Rebel reliever kept rolling in the fifth, striking out the side to keep it a 3-3 tilt.

Ole Miss broke through in the sixth starting with a leadoff walk by Keenan. Ben Van Cleve kept it going with a missile into right center to put two runners in scoring position with one out. Elko cashed in, roping a two-RBI double into the left-field corner to give the Rebels a 5-3 lead.

Miller took over for Broadway in the seventh and turned in a one-two-three frame, capped off with back-to-back strikeouts. Miller also retired the first two batters he saw in the eighth before handing off to Forsyth, who induced a pop-out to Trey LaFleur at first to end the inning.

In the ninth, Elko continued his terrific night with the first triple of the season for the Rebels. The captain promptly came home on an RBI pinch-hit base knock by Hayden Leatherwood to tack on an insurance run.

“They’d been throwing a lot of off-speed, and I missed the fastball early on in the at-bat,” Elko said. “I was just trying to put a good piece on anything I could get. I did it.”

From there, it was easy rolling for Forsyth, who retired three straight with two strikeouts to earn his fifth save.

“It’s an adrenaline rush every time, that’s why I love closing,” Forsyth said. “Just tried my best to remember the little things and do those right and let everything else take care of itself. My mentality is to kill. When you come in, you don’t want a single hit to be given up. You have to be mentally tough enough to come in in tough spots and get the outs when you need them.”

Ole Miss and ULM will do battle once more on Wednesday at 4 p.m. CT before the Rebels head home to start Southeastern Conference play Friday against LSU.

Quick Hits

– Ole Miss improved to 15-1 on the season, including 2-0 in road games and 4-0 away from Swayze Field.

– Ole Miss extended its winning streak to 15 games, tying for the second-longest streak in program history. The Rebels also won 15 straight in 1964 and 1923.

– With Florida’s loss to Florida State earlier this evening, Ole Miss is now on the longest active winning streak in the nation.

– Keenan hit his fifth home run of the season, moving him into a tie for the team lead with Servideo.

– Keenan recorded his team-leading eighth multi-RBI game.

– Keenan has reached base in all 16 games this season.

– Justin Bench reached-base streak ended at 15 games.

– Elko notched his fourth multi-RBI and his fourth multi-hit game this year.

– Keenan extended his hitting streak to 10 games, while Servideo hit safely for the eighth straight game.

– Forsyth earned his fifth save of the season, which leads the SEC.