The Ole Miss Baseball team scored three runs in the ninth to rally from a two-run deficit and defeat the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff in walk-off fashion, 7-6, Wednesday afternoon, March 18, at Swayze Field. The victory marks the Rebels’ (11-9) second ninth-inning comeback in the last three games.
“Maybe we learned something from the basketball team last night – that you’re never out of it,” noted Ole Miss Head Coach Mike Bianco, referring to the men’s basketball team coming back from 17 points down at halftime to beat BYU in the NCAA Tournament. “I’m proud of our guys.”
Freshman Tate Blackman drove in the game-winning hit as part of a career day for the young Rebel. The Ole Miss second baseman tallied three hits and drove in three runs, both career highs.
“I got my chance,” explained Blackman as he talked about the sequence of his game-winning at-bat. “The first pitch he threw me was a ball, but the second pitch he left it out over the middle, and I put my best swing on it.”
Two other freshmen came up big as well. Kyle Watson and Will Golsan both went 2-for-5, scoring two and three runs, respectively. Golsan added two RBI to hit stat line as the three freshmen combined for seven of the Rebels’ 10 hits on the evening.
Senior Sikes Orvis homered for the second-straight game, adding a solo blast in the bottom of the seventh, his fifth home run of the season and 23rd of his career. Errol Robinson and Cameron Dishon both found hits for Ole Miss as well.
Needing just three pitches to get the final out of the ninth, Michel Babb (1-0) picked up the win for his first decision as a Rebel. Starter Evan Anderson lasted a career-long 6.1 innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits and two walks to go along with a pair of strikeouts.
Andre Davis (1-1), entering the game with a 1.69 ERA and a victory over Mississippi State, took the loss by giving up the three runs in the bottom of the ninth after sending the Rebels down in order in the eighth. Davis, starting the game at first base, also added two hits at the plate with one RBI and one run. Eight different Golden Lions recorded a hit as UAPB (7-9) equaled Ole Miss with 10 hits throughout the game.
For the eighth time this season, the Rebels scored in the first inning, plating a pair of runs on three hits. As the leadoff hitter, Watson did his job to start the contest with a single through the left side. The freshman stole second to get into scoring position before rounding third and heading home on a base hit up the middle by Golsan. With two outs, Blackman nearly left the yard as he doubled off the left field wall, allowing Golsan to cross the plate and give Ole Miss the early two-run advantage. UAPB cut the lead in half with a run in the top of the second to make it a 2-1 game.
The Golden Lions tied the game in the third before taking the lead with two runs in the fourth. Trailing 4-2, Ole Miss took advantage of an UAPB error in the fifth as Golsan reached to begin the inning. The freshman crossed the plate on another base knock by Blackman, turning on the jets to score from second base. After five innings of play, the Rebels found themselves down by one run.
UAPB added two more runs in the top of the seventh to take its biggest lead of the game, 6-3. However, that did not last long as Orvis blasted a deep fly into the right field student section to trim away at the deficit.
Still trailing by two with their last chance at the dish, the Rebels put on the rally caps as Dishon led off the inning with a single. Flipping to the top of the order, Watson stepped up and nearly tied the game, knocking a ball off the left field wall for two-bagger. Golsan kept the momentum going, driving a base hit past the diving second baseman, scoring Dishon; Watson also scored on the play as the UAPB right fielder airmailed the throw home, and just like that, the game was tied with the winning run on second base. Opting to play small ball and advance the runner 90 feet, Woodman did his job with a sacrifice bunt that moved Golsan to third. Wanting nothing to do with Orvis, the Golden Lions intentionally walked the senior slugger to bring the freshman Blackman to the dish. Remaining calm and cool under pressure, Blackman drilled the second pitch he saw into the left-center gap to score Golsan before being mobbed by his teammates rounding first.
“Our heroes were the freshman today,” noted Coach Bianco. “Watson, Golsan and Tate (Blackman) all came through for us.”
Following the comeback victory against the Golden Lions, Ole Miss will face another team ranked No. 1 in the nation for the second straight week. The Rebels will host Florida in the first home SEC series of the 2015 campaign, March 20-22. Game one will begin under the lights of Swayze Field Friday night at 6:30 p.m. CT. The first two games of the series will air on SEC Network+, while the finale will be broadcast on ESPNU at 1:30 p.m. CT.