#4 Ole Miss Secures Belmont Series Sweep in Walk-Off Fashion

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OXFORD, Miss. (Ole Miss Athletics) — Despite some late game drama, Hayden Dunhurst made sure to not let a four-home run performance from his team be all for not. The sophomore catcher’s walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth allowed No. 4 Ole Miss (10-2) to complete the series sweep over Belmont 8-7 at Swayze Field on Sunday and win their fifth straight game.

Tim Elko continued to terrorize Belmont pitchers, capping off an outstanding week by going 2-for-3 at the plate with both hits being home runs and had four RBI. He was joined by Justin Bench (2-for-5) and Kevin Graham (1-for-2) in the home run department, the latter getting two RBI. Derek Diamond went four innings on the mound while the bullpen allowed four hits and struck out four batters, with Taylor Broadway getting the win (2-0) when it was all said and done.

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To start the game, Diamond walked Bruin leadoff hitter Carson Shacklett who later advanced to second following a ground out. Tommy Crider got Belmont’s first hit of the game with a single to right field, putting runners at the corners with one out. Belmont drew first blood following a sac fly by Logan Jarvis that scored Shacklett. The Bruins then tacked on another run with a triple by Brodey Heaton down the right field line that scored Crider. A pop up caught by Dunhurst stopped the bleeding in the opening frame.

It wouldn’t take long for the Rebels to get on the board for the first time as Bench homered a leadoff, 1-0 pitch to left field and cut the lead to one. After Andy Bean retired the next two Rebel batters, Elko barreled a solo home run of his own to right field and tied the game 2-2.

After Diamond went three-up and three-down through the Bruin order in the top of the second, Graham continued the home run brigade with a blast to right field and gave Ole Miss its first lead of the afternoon, 3-2 with no outs.

Elko reached first to begin the bottom of the fourth after being beaned. The Preseason All-SEC third baseman reached third after a pair of balks and then scored off of a sac fly by Graham to put Ole Miss up 4-2.

To open the fifth inning, Jack Rando singled to right field while Shacklett and John Behrends also came aboard, loading the bases for Belmont with no outs. Austin Miller came out of the Rebel bullpen to strikeout Crider, but a wild pitch allowed Rando to score and cut Ole Miss’ lead to one run. After intentionally walking Jarvis, Miller left the bases loaded following a ground out.

Connor Anderson succeeded Bean in the bottom half of the sixth after hitting Dunhurst with a pitch. With one out, Ben Van Cleve ripped a line drive down the left field line and Dunhurst attempted to make it all the way home, only to be ruled out at the plate after a relay throw. Walks issued to Graham and Baker loaded the bases, bringing in Kyle Brennan out of the Bruin bullpen to face Hayden Leatherwood. Brennan retired the side of the sixth with a ground out.

Wes Burton made a brief appearance on the mound but walked two batters with no outs, bringing in Tyler Myers. After a fielder’s choice retired one, the Bruins had runners at the corners. A sac fly by Jarvis scored Shacklett and tied the game at four apiece.

The Rebels again had runners on base with two outs in the bottom half of the inning after walks by Garrett Wood and Dunhurst. This time, the home team broke through. Elko launched his second dinger of the game to right field and gave Ole Miss a 7-4 lead.

Late-game drama ensued in the ninth inning with Braden Forsyth attempting to put the game away. A hit-by-pitch and a single put two runners on with no outs and forced Broadway in out of the bullpen, ultimately setting up Heaton with an RBI single to cut the deficit to two runs. Broadway hit Landers to load the bases, then Jack Capobianco doubled down the line to score Austin Ehren and Behrends and tie the game. On the same play, Lowry was caught aggressively rounding third, resulting in the final out to set up Ole Miss with a chance to walk it off.

With one out, Bench singled to right field and later advanced to second on a wild pitch. Jacob Gonzalez then walked to give the Rebels two on base, still with one out. Dunhurst then called game with a single down through the right side between two defenders to score Bench all the way from second and complete the weekend sweep.

The Rebels return to Swayze Field on Tuesday, March 9, to take on Alcorn State. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. CT and can be seen on SEC Network+ or listened to on the Ole Miss Radio Network.

QUICK HITS
– Ole Miss advances to 10-2 on the season after going 5-0 this week.
– The Rebels improve to 5-0 all-time against Belmont.
– Ole Miss hit four home runs in Sunday’s game, the most since March 11, 2020 against Louisiana-Monroe (five).
– Tim Elko hit two home runs in Sunday’s game (career-best) and had five total in the weekend series.
– For the week, Tim Elko went 10-for-17 (.588/1.529/.708) with a double, five home runs, eight runs scored and 13 RBI.
– With his game-winning RBI single in the ninth, Hayden Dunhurst extended his hitting streak to eight games.
– Kevin Graham’s home run in the second inning was his second in as many days.
– Derek Diamond failed to pitch at least 5.0-plus innings for the first time in his career.