No. 10 Ole Miss jumped out to a 10-0 lead and never looked back, holding off No. 6 Vanderbilt for a 12-9 victory Thursday evening in the third round of the SEC Tournament. With the win, the Rebels (43-16) advanced to the single elimination semifinals on Saturday, May 28.
Ole Miss reached double digits in runs in consecutive SEC Tournament games for the first time in school history. The Rebels have been on a tear at the plate, outscoring the opposition 27-14 over the three-game stretch.
Nine different Rebels recorded a hit as Ole Miss finished the contest with 13. The middle of the order once again paced the Rebel bats. Henri Lartigue had his second straight game with at least three hits, going 3-for-5 with three runs and one RBI. Colby Bortles hit two doubles that produced a career-high four RBI, increasing his doubles total to 21 on the season. J.B. Woodman belted his SEC-leading 14th home run of the season, his ninth over the last 16 games.
Making his SEC Tournament debut, freshman James McArthur (6-1) put together a solid outing against a top-10 team. He allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits over 5.1 innings to earn the victory. The Rebels pitched four freshmen in the game along with junior Wyatt Short. Connor Green, Andy Pagnozzi and Brady Feigl worked at least one inning apiece out of the bullpen.
The Commodores (43-16) tallied 11 hits throughout the contest, getting three hits and three RBI out of both outfielders Jeren Kendall and Bryan Reynolds. Ole Miss pounded nine runs off Vanderbilt ace Jordan Sheffield (8-5) in five innings, defeating an opposing team’s top pitcher for the second straight day.
Ole Miss put up a four spot in the second inning to claim an early advantage. As has been the case throughout the tournament, the middle of the order started the big inning. Lartigue singled with one out before rolling home on a double to the left-center gap by Bortles. Ryan Olenek and Holt Perdzock drew back-to-back walks to load the bases for Cameron Dishon. With three Rebels on, the senior brought two across the plate on a double of his own. Errol Robinson’s sacrifice fly to right scored Perdozck as the Rebels tagged the Vanderbilt ace for four runs.
In the bottom of the second, McArthur got into some trouble, allowing a single and a walk to start the inning. After a mound visit from head coach Mike Bianco, the right hander forced back-to-back flyouts. Another walk loaded the bases, but McArthur got another flyout to get out of the inning unscathed and leave three Commodores on base.
Woodman increased the Ole Miss lead to 5-0 with a solo blast in the third. Two innings later, with McArthur keeping Vanderbilt off the scoreboard, the Rebels posted another four-run inning. Loading the bases, Ole Miss scored on a fielder’s choice at second base, scoring Robinson and keeping the bases full of Rebels. That didn’t last long as Bortles cleared the bags, ripping his second double of the game to left field and bringing all three baserunners around to score. With another perfect inning from McArthur, Ole Miss held a 9-0 advantage after five innings of play.
After forcing Sheffield out of the game with the big fifth inning, Ole Miss used three straight singles to load the bases on Vanderbilt reliever Ryan Johnson. The Commodores got a double play that included an out at the plate and almost got out of the inning unharmed. However, as Johnson tried to intentionally walk Woodman, his pitch sailed to the backstop, allowing Robinson to score and giving Ole Miss a double-digit lead.
Vanderbilt got to McArthur in the bottom of the sixth as a solo home run by Reynolds put the Commodores on the board. An error led to two more runs before a groundout tacked on another. Through six innings, the Rebels led 10-4.
Each team scored a run in the seventh. Lartigue doubled, and Olenek singled to put runners on the corners. A pinch-hit single to center by Michael Fitzsimmons scored Lartigue for the Rebels’ 11th run of the game. Vanderbilt countered with a run and looked to get more by loading the bases once again. For the second straight day, Pagnozzi came out of the bullpen and left the three runners stranded. The freshman’s big strikeout allowed Ole Miss to maintain six-run cushion.
Ole Miss added an insurance run in the eighth before getting out of another bases-loaded jam. This time, Feigl relieved Pagnozzi to end the Vanderbilt threat. Bortles fielded a grounder and stepped on third for the final out of the inning, holding the Commodores scoreless.
Vanderbilt did not give up, scoring four runs into the ninth to slice the deficit. However, it was too much to overcome as Short finished the job and wrapped up another conference tournament victory.
With three straight wins in three days, the Rebels have earned a day off tomorrow. Ole Miss will return to action Saturday afternoon (May 28) at noon, facing the winner of Friday’s game between No. 1 Texas A&M and No. 6 Vanderbilt. The semifinal contest will be single elimination with the winner advancing to Sunday’s championship game on ESPN2.
Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports