GREENVILLE, N.C. - Gunnar Hoglund turned in a masterful performance on the mound, and the bullpen duo of Max Cioffi and Braden Forsyth took it from there as No. 23 Ole Miss pulled out a 2-1 victory at No. 19 ECU on Saturday night at Clark-LeClair Stadium.
Hoglund came through with a spectacular outing, going 6.0 innings with one unearned run allowed on five hits and one walk with eight strikeouts. Cioffi and Forsyth then combined to finish out the final three innings, allowing no runs on just one hit and one walk. The trio combined to strike out 13 Pirate hitters in front of a raucous crowd as the Rebels won their ninth straight and improved to 2-0 in the Keith LeClair Classic.
ECU managed one run after a pair of first-inning errors, but the Rebels fought right back in the second inning. Tim Elko was the key offensive contributor of the night, driving home the game-tying run with a double to right center. He then scored what proved to be the game-winning run on a Jerrion Ealy sacrifice fly.
Anthony Servideo led off with a base hit to center, and Cael Baker later reached on a walk, but Ole Miss couldn't make anything of it in a scoreless first half. Meanwhile, defensive errors on the first two plays of the bottom half led to a run for ECU. Tyler Keenan knocked down a hot shot at third base, but his throw was just a tick late to first. Then, on a Zach Agnos sacrifice bunt, Peyton Chatagnier couldn't pull in a throw from Hayden Dunhurst, putting runners at the corners with no outs. After a pop-out, a Pirate groundout brought the first run of the game aboard. Then Hoglund escaped the jam with his first of eight strikeouts on the evening.
Ole Miss quickly erased the deficit in the second, starting with a leadoff walk by Kevin Graham. The Rebel left fielder wasn't on the basepaths for long as Elko smacked a ball deep into the right-center gap, allowing Graham to come all the way around from first. After Dunhurst reached on a fielder's choice, Jerrion Ealy sent Elko home on a sacrifice fly to center, making it 2-1, Rebels.
Hoglund carried that momentum into the bottom half, striking out the side to keep it a 2-1 Rebel advantage.
ECU put its lead runner on base with a hit-by-pitch in the third, but he was quickly erased as he attempted to steal second on Dunhurst. The Pirates also notched their first hit of the game later in the frame, but Hoglund escaped the inning without issue.
ECU starter Tyler Smith's night ended after 3.2 innings as some sound Rebel at-bats worked his pitch count into the 80s. He was replaced by left-hander C.J. Mayhue, who surrendered an infield single to Servideo before escaping the inning and stranding two Rebels.
The Pirates threatened in the fourth after back-to-back singles to start the inning. An intentional walk then loaded the bases with just one out, but Hoglund escaped the sticky situation with a strikeout, followed by a groundout to Keenan, who stepped on the bag at third to end the inning.
Ole Miss put the home team in a similar situation in the fifth after base hits by Keenan and Justin Bench, but Mayhue fanned Elko to work out of the inning. The ECU reliever stayed hot, striking out the side in the sixth. Hoglund made quick work of the Pirates in the fifth, surrendering just a harmless two-out base hit before ending the frame with a flyout to Bench in left. ECU again notched one single in the sixth, but Hoglund struck out the final two batters he faced to check out with a 2-1 lead.
Cioffi relieved Hoglund in the seventh and picked up right where the Rebel starter left off, retiring three Pirates in order with two strikeouts. ECU then went to the bullpen again to bring an end to an excellent relief outing from Mayhue, who worked 3.1 scoreless innings with just four hits allowed, no walks and six strikeouts. Right-hander Matt Bridges carried the torch successfully, retiring Ole Miss in order in the eighth. Cioffi kept the pitchers' duel rolling, allowing just one base hit before sitting down three straight Pirates to preserve the one-run lead. Servideo reached on a walk in the ninth, but the Rebels couldn't push another run across, keeping the gap at just one going into the ninth.
Braden Forsyth came on for the save and issued a free pass to the first batter he faced, but he was lights-out from then on out. The sophomore sat down the next Pirate hitter with just three pitches. Then he induced the ground ball Ole Miss needed. Servideo scooped and sent it to Chatagnier at second to get the lead runner, but the Rebel second baseman's throw skipped into the dugout, sending ECU's Ryder Giles to second base.
But even with the tying run in scoring position, Forsyth wasn't fazed. The Rebel closer pumped two strikes past ECU's Lane Hoover before getting the Pirate left fielder to ground to Cael Baker at first. Forsyth beat the runner to the bag to earn his third career save.
Ole Miss will wrap up play at the Keith LeClair Classic on Sunday at 10 a.m. CT against Indiana. The Hoosiers are 2-0 thus far in Greenville.
--Ole Miss improved to 9-1 on the season and recorded its ninth straight win.
-- Gunnar Hoglund struck out eight, tying for the second-most of his career behind his 12 Ks last weekend against Xavier.
-- Hoglund has struck out seven or more batters in all three of his starts so far this season.
-- Anthony Servideo notched his team-best fifth multi-hit game of the season.
-- Tyler Keenan recorded his third multi-hit game of the year, second only to Servideo.
-- Jerrion Ealy logged his first career RBI with a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the second inning.
-- Tyler Keenan and Justin Bench have both reached base successfully in 10 straight games.
-- Braden Forsyth was credited with his third career save.