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Hoover, Alabama – In the longest nine inning game in SEC Tournament history, Ole Miss’ bid for the 2016 SEC Tournament Championship fell short as the Rebels lost to Texas A&M by a final score of 12-8 in the semifinals. But the Ole Miss team has put that behind them and is now preparing for the road to Omaha and the College World Series.
Ole Miss will host the Oxford Regional beginning Friday and will be joined by No. 2 seed Tulane, No. 3 seed Boston College and No. 4 seed Utah. The Oxford Regional winner will face the winner of the Coral Gables Regional in the super regional round.
Miami, the No. 3 national seed, hosts the Coral Gables Regional and has Stetson, Long Beach and Florida Atlantic participating.
Ole Miss had a hot start scoring five runs in the 3rd inning. The Rebels were led by shortstop Errol Robinson who busted out of his SEC Tournament slump with a 4-for-6 day at the plate and 4 RBIs.
Other Rebels with multi-hit days included second baseman Tate Blackman, center fielder J.B. Woodman, right fielder Ryan Olenek, designated hitter Holt Perdzock, and left fielder Kyle Watson. At 7, 8, and 9 in the line-up, Olenek, Perdzock and Watson performed well with six hits and six runs scored between the three of them.
The four men on the field who try to go noticed—the umpires—were not successful in doing so on Saturday. The first batter for Texas A&M in the 4th inning was originally ruled out on an outstanding bare-handed play by Rebel shortstop Errol Robinson. The call was eventually overturned after an umpire conference. Head coach Mike Bianco vehemently argued the changed call to no avail.
Later in the game, J.B. Woodman was “caught stealing” second base after it was ruled he “overslid” the base. Both plays were ruled incorrectly by the umpires after TV replay. Based upon how the innings played out, these officiating errors resulted in an extra run for A&M and a lost run for Ole Miss. As baseball is a huge momentum game, these plays led to big shifts in the game.
The usually reliable closer Wyatt Short was not effective Saturday entering the 8th with the lead. Short looked somewhat fatigued as he gave up six runs in his brief appearance, including a three-run pinch hit home run by Texas A&M’s Walker Pennington.
Junior Errol Robinson quipped, “People notice he struggled because of how good he is. It’s baseball, sometimes things don’t go our way.” Short’s performance overshadowed a good start by starter Chad Smith and middle reliever Dallas Woolfolk who combined for 7 ⅓ innings pitched and gave up four earned runs. Both Smith and Woolfolk left the game with the Rebels in the lead.
After the game, Rebel skipper Mike Blanco commented, “It’s a very humbling league, and A&M is so, so good. We left the door open a bit, and they ran through it.”
Ole Miss will return to action against Utah, the Pac-12 Champion, on Friday at 7:00 p.m. at Swayze Field.
After a long but successful season and an extended stay in Hoover, the Rebels seem poised for a deep, multi-weekend post-season run.
(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)