ARLINGTON, Texas – Derek Diamond sparkled in a performance befitting the No. 1 team as Ole Miss completed the State Farm College Baseball Showdown with a sweep of the three Texas entries.
Diamond, a sophomore right-hander, located his fastball and went six innings allowing one run on four hits and a walk as Ole Miss defeated No. 9 Texas 8-1 at Globe Life Field Monday afternoon. He struck out eight.
The Rebels extended their school-record win streak to 19 games.
Earlier Monday the Rebels, with top-10 wins against TCU and Texas Tech already in hand, were promoted to No. 1 in the Baseball America Top 25.
D1Baseball.com, the poll referenced in Daily Journal coverage, had the Rebels at No. 6 in preseason and has not yet updated its rankings.
“I felt like we were No. 1 last year, and now people are starting to pick up on it. I think we’re going to sit there for a while. It feels right,” Diamond said.
Diamond was held out of fall practice with tendinitis. Against Texas he hit 97 on the radar.
Ole Miss rescheduled its first home game from Tuesday to Wednesday because of field conditions related to the ice storm. First pitch against Arkansas State at Swayze Field is 4 p.m.
Monday Petyon Chatagnier doubled three times, and Trey LaFleur extended the lead with a solo home run, the first run in a three-run ninth. Both players are sophomores.
The Rebels (3-0) led 1-0 when Texas tied the game in the fifth on a solo home run by third baseman Cam Williams.
Ole Miss put up four runs in the top of the sixth with a run-scoring single by Kevin Graham, a sacrifice fly by Hayden Dunhurst and a two-out, two-run single by Justin Bench.
The Longhorns (1-2) had avoided major damage until Ole Miss loaded the bases for the second time in the inning, and Bench, the eight-hole hitter, came through with his first hit of the season.
The Rebels continued an early trend of strong relief pitching this time from junior college transfer Brandon Johnson and freshman Josh Mallitz, both making their college debuts.
The bullpen allowed one run in 14 innings in the three games.
Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said the recognition that comes along with a No. 1 ranking is nice, but players can’t get wrapped up in it, and coaches won’t try to motivate them with it.
“The truth of the matter is it doesn’t win you games, it doesn’t help with anything except some propaganda with recruiting. I don’t know why we would talk about it or mention it. We never mentioned it when we were ranked fifth or fourth.”