No. 21 Rebels defeat No. 2 Louisville 4-2 to clinch series
Mike Bianco felt his No. 21 Ole Miss team needed to be tested early on in the season to prepare them for later success. But most importantly, Bianco wanted his team to have a chance to grow up.
The Rebels (6-1) matured quickly.
In the top of the ninth inning, junior LHP Wyatt Short pitched a one-hitter that resulted in Devin Hairston’s ground-out into a double play, with Blake Tiberi being ousted at second base, to give the Rebels the 4-2 win over second-ranked Louisville (5-2) on Sunday afternoon.
With the win, Ole Miss clinched the series, 2-1, and pushed its record against ranked opponents to 9-7, dating back to last season.
After the conclusion of the 6-4-3 double play, Short–who recorded his third save–pumped his left fist towards his teammates for the way they ended the game.
“In those situations, you have to go with your best guy, which is Short and he does a great job when he gets in. He throws a bomb on a good 1-0 change-up to fly-out to center field,” Rebels head coach Mike Bianco said.
Louisville starts hot, but Rebels bounce back
What started out to be a disastrous day for Ole Miss turned out to be a productive day, instead, as the Rebels won two out of three games against a tough Cardinals team that relied mainly on its hot pitching and steady defense to keep Ole Miss on its heels for much of the series.
Left fielder Corey Ray got things going early for Louisville in the opening seconds of the first inning with a home run towards left field. Then Logan Taylor scored off Danny Rosenbaum’s ground out to second base.
Before the Rebels had any opportunities at bat, they found themselves in a 2-0 hole. But Bianco’s bunch quickly settled in the bottom of the third inning and recorded three runs and five hits to take a 3-2 lead. The fiesta started with Ryan Olenek’s single to right field. Then Connor Cloyd singled to left field and Olenek advanced to third.
Olenek scored off of Cameron Dishon’s single through the right side. Cloyd, then, advanced to third and headed home when Errol Robinson singled in the direction of center field. Will Golsan’s fly out to left field sent Dishon running across home base, and the Rebels were up 3-2 at that point.
Solid outings on the mound
A large part of the turnaround had to do with the stellar play of RHP Sean Johnson (2-0) on the mound. In 5.1 innings, Johnson recorded three strikeouts and allowed only five hits and two runs. The redshirt junior left the game before the start of the sixth inning and received a standing ovation from the home crowd of 9,010.
Sophomore LHP David Parkinson came in for Johnson and struck out Will Smith. Parkinson would record another strikeout on the afternoon at the top of the seventh inning on Ray. After a short stint on the mound, Bianco pulled Parkinson for sophomore RHP Will Stokes.
After Stokes faced two batters, Short went in to finish off Louisville, which had nine hits.
Though Johnson felt he could have played the entire game, his head coach thought it best for Johnson to call it a day after throwing a total of 82 pitches. Bianco talked afterwards about giving his pitcher a rest:
–Coach Bianco on Sean Johnson
Golsan’s first career home run
In the bottom of the sixth, Will Golsan recorded his first career home run as it went left field, and he coasted his way to home base while Rebel fans greeted him with loud cheers. The Rebels went up two, and Golsan felt his home run was needed to bridge the gap between both ball clubs.
“It was a relief to get it over there,” Golsan said.
Ole Miss hosts Memphis on Wednesday (3:00 p.m. CT, SEC Network+).
(Feature image photo credit: Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)