Last night’s win will go down as one of the greatest games in Ole Miss baseball history! WE ARE OLE MISS! WE ARE HEADING TO OMAHA!
LAFAYETTE, La. - That is the headline for today, as the Ole Miss Rebels advance to the College World Series for the first time in 42 years. The program had reached Super-Regional play five times over the past decade, but had never been able to get over that hump, until now.
Mike Bianco came to Ole Miss in the summer of 2000. Since then, Bianco has sent his Rebels to 12 postseasons, five of those being Super-Regionals, and just last year became the all-time winning coach in school history. Now, Bianco has sent the 2014 Ole Miss Rebels to Omaha, Nebraska to compete in the College World series for the first time in his era, and the first time since 1972. Is it easy to say that Mike Bianco will go down as the greatest coach in Ole Miss baseball history, or maybe even Ole Miss history?
If you missed last night’s game, it was the one game in the history of Ole Miss baseball you should’ve not missed. It started with Sam Smith (the usual Ole Miss series closing starter) on the mound. Smith struggled to find his groove through 3 2/3 of innings. Scott Weathersby would come in the bottom of the 4th inning to replace Smith, after a two run lead was blown. Weathersby would eventually pick up the win working 2.0 innings allowing only two hits, a walk, and picked up two strikeouts. Josh Laxer replaced Weathersby in the bottom of the 6th inning and would pick up his sixth save of the season. Laxer worked 3.1 innings with one unearned run on two hits, with a walk and two strike outs.
The Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns would get on the board first this time. In the third inning, a lead off double that resulted from a ball dropping in shallow center got a runner automatically in scoring position for the Cajuns. A sacrifice bunt on the next play would move the runner from second to third. Then a fielding error from Sam Smith on a grounder led to runners at the corners. The run would be scored on the next play from a sacrificed fly out to left field, giving the Cajuns a 1-0 lead after three innings.
That lead would not last long as Ole Miss immediately answered in the top of the fourth inning. The rally started with Auston Bousfield leading off with a double to setup a two run home-run from Austin Anderson that went deep over the right field wall. Two batters later, Sikes Orvis extended a Rebel lead to 3-1 with a solo home-run to deep right that landed in the same vicinity as Anderson’s previous home-run.
The Cajuns answered right back in the bottom of the inning. The Cajuns would get two runners on through a hit-by-a-pitch and a double to left that brought the runners to second and third. With one out, the Cajuns brought the runner from third home on a ground-out to third to cut the Rebel lead to 3-2. Then, a double to left brought another Cajun runner home to tie the game at three. This is when the Rebels turned to Scott Weathersby from the bullpen.
At this point, Weathersby came on with two outs and still in a jam. A pop up out to short end the innings on the first batter Weathersby faced. This kept the game in tact for the Rebels as the game head to the fifth inning where the Rebels would answer again.
In the top of the fifth inning, the Cajuns would get into a defensive jam that could have been more ugly than the outcome. It started with a hit-by-pitch that sent the lead-off runner Braxton Lee to first. The Cajuns then turned to their bullpen to bring up Matt Hicks. A wild pitch from Hicks brought Lee to second and a wild pitch on a walk sent Anderson to first and Lee to third.
After a fly out to put two away, the Cajuns went to the bullpen again for the lefty Chris Griffit to face left-handed hitter Sikes Orvis. The very first pitch from Griffit hit Orvis, loading the bases, and that would be all for Griffit. Matt Plitt would replace Griffit and a wild pitch to Colby Bortles sent Braxton Lee walking home to give the Rebels a 4-3 lead heading into the bottom of the fifth inning. The Cajuns would get out of the jam through Bortles.
In the sixth inning, Ole Miss would add to their lead on an RBI-double down the left field line from Auston Bousfield. Braxton Lee got on base after a walk with two outs. He would score from first on Bousfield’s hit, extending the Rebels’ lead to 5-3.
After a two out error and a walk in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Cajuns were threatening to rally. Ole Miss would turn to Josh Laxer out of the bullpen to replace Scott Weathersby. The Cajuns’ next hitter got a clean hit to deep right that made it all the way to the warning track, but was caught for the final out of the inning and the Cajuns left two runners on with nothing to answer.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Josh Laxer picked up two errors (a fielding and throwing error) in one play that resulted in the Cajuns getting a runner at first as they once again looked to rally on the Rebels. A walk on the next batter put two runners on before Laxer would get a fly out to center for the second out.
Cajun center fielder Seth Harrison then drilled a ball down the left field line that would score the lead off runner, cutting the Rebel lead to one. The Cajuns would send the trailing runner home on the play. After the left field throw from Lee was cut off by Errol Robinson, Robinson’s throw to home was dead-on to Will Allen who tagged out the tying run for the Cajuns before crossing the plate. It was an amazing play by Robinson and Allen. The out would end the inning and threat. Ole Miss maintained a 5-4 lead heading into the eighth inning.
The eighth inning started with a four-pitch walk and the Cajuns would call on centerfielder Seth Harrison to pitch. Harrison threw four consecutive balls to Preston Overbey putting two runners on for the Rebels. A Errol Robinson grounder resulted in a fielder’s choice to advance JB Woodman to third and leaving runners at the corners. Braxton Lee then drove a sacrifice fly out to left, bringing home Woodman and extending the Rebels’ lead to 6-4.
Ole Miss would see quality insurance in the top of the ninth inning. With the bases loaded, no outs, and on a full count Holt Perdzock (pinch-hitting for Colby Bortles) drove a double to right field scoring two runs while a fielding error scored the third run and advanced Perdzock to third. The Rebels now had a commanding 9-4 lead in the top of the ninth inning. After another Cajun pitching change, Perdzock was able to advance home on a sacrifice fly out from JB Woodman.
The Rebels went into the bottom of the ninth inning with a commanding 10-4 lead over the Ragin’ Cajuns. The hump that had plague over the program for the last decade had seem to decease as the Rebels were just three outs away from Omaha. The side would be retired in order by Josh Laxer and the Ole Miss Rebels reached the promise land (The College World Series).
A team that was picked to finish dead-last in the SEC Western Division during the preseason, ended their regular season at the top of their division and second in the Southeastern Conference. After a disappointing finish in the SEC Tournament, the Ole Miss Rebels hosted the Oxford Regional and won it unbeaten through miserable rain delays. They then headed to Lafayette, Louisiana as an underdog (by most) to face the number one team in the country. They now hold their hats high as they have removed all the doubters and have accomplished victory for a program that has not had this experience since Richard Nixon was in office.
Damn, how good of day is it to be a Rebel? To the players and coaches, we could not be more proud of what you have achieved this season. To the fans across Rebel Nation, who have experienced heartache and pain over the years, that day is not today. We are heading to Omaha! Whether we go 0-2 or win it all, it doesn’t matter. All we wanted to be able to say is that we got there. This moment will be cherished by Rebel Nation from generation-to-generation. We could never be more proud to be called a Rebel. Hotty Toddy!
The Ole Miss Rebels will first play in the College World Series on Sunday night at 7:00 p.m. CST. They will face Virginia in the final game of the day at TD Ameritrade Park. More articles will be coming soon to preview the College World Series. We may even introduce you to Omaha since most of us have never been there before.
Tags: Austin Anderson Auston Bousfield Braxton Lee College World Series Errol Robinson JB Woodman Josh Laxer Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns Mike Bianco Ole Miss Rebels Sam Smith Scott Weathersby Sikes Orvis Will Allen