RebelGrove - Derek Diamond dazzles as Rebs rout Texas to complete Metroplex sweep
{{ timeAgo('2021-02-22 19:40:03 -0600') }} baseball Edit

Derek Diamond dazzles as Rebs rout Texas to complete Metroplex sweep

It’s doubtful the Ole Miss coaching staff runs across Stanford University much during their work or personal lives, but on the rare occasions, anyone associated with Rebel baseball should probably say nice things about the Pac 12 school’s admissions department.

Derek Diamond had been committed to Stanford for more than a year when he was denied enrollment despite a 4.0 GPA and solid test scores. It caused the top-50 national prospect to jump into senior-year baseball recruiting, something very uncommon for top-level talent.

He, of course, had plenty of options before visiting and committing to Ole Miss over LSU and Virginia. He watched The Season documentary series to familiarize with the Rebels and signed soon after.

“We had to fight some big people for him, but we were fortunate,” Mike Bianco said about Diamond being available that late. “We had money and needed another arm. Fortunate you can get a kid from California who wants to come east and play in the SEC. It certainly worked well for us.”

Ole Miss knew what it had in Diamond as a true freshman, as he started the four Sundays before the season ended and transitioned well to SEC play.

However, as good as he was then, he showed several tiers above that on Monday in Arlington, as Ole Miss routed Texas, 8-1, to clinch an undefeated weekend over the Big 12 trio and run its school record win streak to 19 games. Texas is 0-3 on the year.

The Rebels moved to No. 1 nationally for the first time in school history earlier Monday after beating TCU 7-3 and Texas Tech 5-4 the past two days.

"We're finally getting the respect we deserve," Diamond said. "I think we're going to sit there for a while. It feels right... We came out swinging, I was throwing and it felt good. We're number one for a reason."

The right-handed Diamond gave up just one run on a solo home run and scattered four hits in six innings. The Ramona, California, native struck out eight, walked one and threw an efficient 60 strikes in his 86 pitches.

Diamond touched 97 MPH in the first inning and sat 92-94 for most of his outing, in increase from last season. He also showed better feel of a hard slider that crossed up Texas hitters and worked on both sides of the plate for strikes and as an out-of-the-zone out pitch.

It was an incredibly sharp outing considering Diamond missed the fall with a forearm strain he suffered during summer ball and had an uneven preseason in intrasquads.

“I’m stronger, and it’s an average answer, but it’s the truth,” Diamond said.

He struck out the side in the first and had seven strikeouts through three innings. Brandon Johnson, a JUCO transfer from Columbia State, made his Ole Miss debut and struck out three in two shutout relief innings. Freshman Josh Mallitz finished things in the ninth with two strikeouts.

Peyton Chatagnier went 3 for 4 with three doubles but hobbled between first base and second base in the seventh inning and had to leave the game.

Garrett Wood replaced Chatagnier at second base and scored a run after a walk.

Bianco said Chatagnier pulled his hamstring but wouldn’t know the severity until Tuesday.

Ole Miss squandered opportunities early before a four-run sixth and three-run ninth put the game away.

Justin Bench had a two-out, two-run single to make it 5-1 in the sixth, and Trey LaFleur hit his first career home run to lead off the ninth. Jacob Gonzalez tripled in a run and later scored in the inning.

Ole Miss held Texas to 1-for-12 with runners on, 0-for-9 with two outs and 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.