No. 14 Ole Miss rallies to defeat Auburn 6-5 for the sweep
OXFORD – On a day when it looked as if Ole Miss might drop the final game of the series with Auburn, the Rebels saved the best for last—winning in walk-off fashion.
Henri Lartigue’s single to left field in the bottom of the ninth sent Tate Blackman home to give the 14th-ranked Rebels (31-10, 10-8 Southeastern Conference) the 6-5 win and the completion of the sweep against Auburn on Sunday afternoon at Swayze Field.
But, the rally really started in the bottom of the eighth when the Rebels, down 5-0, kept swinging and found their offense.
Third baseman Colby Bortles hammered a two-run homer to right field that sent J.B. Woodman across the plate and cut the Auburn lead to 5-2 at the end of the eighth.
In the top of the ninth, Andy Pagnozzi headed to the mound and shut Auburn out in three-up, three-down fashion.
Give me some of that Swayze magic….
With Cameron Dishon at second and Errol Robinson at first, right-fielder Ryan Olenek hit a three-run homer to left field that tied the game at five.
It was Olenek’s second home run of the season–and it was the game-changing moment Ole Miss needed to secure the comeback.
Ole Miss RF Ryan Olenek
Tigers try to avoid the sweep
Auburn’s four-run, second inning surge was evidence the Tigers (18-22, 5-13) didn’t want to get swept and credit should be given to Auburn’s offense. Jackson Burgreen’s double to left center field scored Blake Logan and Niko Buentello.
Then, third baseman Kyler Deese doubled down the left field line to score Burgreen. Reese crossed the plate following Cody Nulph’s single to right field and the Tigers were up 4-0 at the end of tw0.
McArthur shines in SEC pitching debut
Facing a 4-0 deficit after only two innings, Coach Bianco turned to pitcher James McArthur who was outstanding in 4.2 innings of work in his first SEC contest.
The freshman came in for starter Sean Johnson and threw 63 pitches and recorded four strike-outs while only giving up two hits.
Dallas Woolfolk, Matt Denny and Andy Pagnozzi pitched the rest of the way, with Pagnozzi (6-2) picking up the win, but Mike Bianco credited McArthur’s performance as one of the main reasons for his team’s comeback.
“That will get lost in all of this,” Bianco said about McArthur’s performance. “It really might be the biggest factor in why we won. We gave up a four spot in the second, and he comes and just really gives us an opportunity.”
Mike Bianco on James McArthur’s pitching
Rebels at the plate
In the first two games against the Tigers, the Rebels recorded double-digit hits and that trend continued on Sunday with a 10-hit performance.
Henri Lartigue’s bat was hot all day as he went 4 for 5, including the game-winning single to left field that sent Tate Blackman across the plate.
Lartigue waited for Gabe Klobosits’ fast ball in the bottom of the ninth while fans stood on their feet. Then he went after it.
Ole Miss C Henri Lartigue
Game three notables:
- The Auburn win is the second time this season Ole Miss has rallied back from a deficit of five runs or greater; Rebels trailed Memphis 6-0 (March 2) before winning 9-7.
- It was the second walk-off win of the season, joining the Arkansas State game (Feb. 24).
- It was the largest ninth-inning comeback since Ole Miss trailed Mississippi State by five before coming back and winning in the 10th (May 9, 2015).
- The series win was the Rebels’ fifth weekend sweep of 2016.
- Freshman James McArthur made his SEC debut on the mound and pitched 4.2 scoreless innings of relief.
- Home runs by Colby Bortles and Ryan Olenek drove in the five of the team’s six runs.
- Henri Lartigue went 4-for-5 on the day, including hitting the walk-off RBI single, to tie his career high in singe-game hits.
(Video credit: Courtney Smith, The Rebel Walk)
Ole Miss will play Mississippi State Tuesday night (6 p.m. CST, SEC Network) in Pearl, Mississippi at Trustmark Park for the annual Governor’s Cup.
(Feature image credit: Joshua McCoy/Ole Miss Athletics)