Rally Ninth

It took Ole Miss all nine innings to beat Arkansas-Pine Bluff 7-6 in Oxford Wednesday. But whatever it takes, right?

That’s basically what a youthful and growing baseball team is striving for these days. Oh sure, every team does that, have that whatever it takes mentality.

But this Ole Miss team, its record now 11-9, is struggling to keep its head above water, and its record above .500. Coming up this weekend? The Florida Gators in Oxford for three games, a team ranked No. 1 in some polls this week.

This, after Ole Miss faced the other No. 1 team in some polls last weekend, LSU, and won one of three games.

So forgive them a bit if they feel good about salvaging the close victory over a SWAC team. This same UAPB team saddled Mississippi State with its first loss of the campaign after 13 consecutive wins to open the season.

However, Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said it certainly wasn’t the Rebels’ finest eight innings as they trailed 6-4 heading into the bottom of that ninth inning.

“Obviously not our best day, and we didn’t play very well,” Bianco said. “Really (UAPB) deserved to win the game, but sometimes the baseball gods smile upon you. That’s what it looked like today.”

Bianco said the good news is his team went out and claimed the victory in the ninth inning. It wasn't like UAPB handed them anything with errors or walks.

The Rebels got a leadoff single from Cam Dishon in the ninth and a double from Kyle Watson to put runners second and third.

Will Golsan singled to score Dishon from third and Golsan advanced to second as Watson scored on a throwing error.

J.B. Woodman sac bunted Golsan to third, and Sikes Orvis was intentionally walked. Tate Blackman singled to get Golsan home for the game-winning run.

Bianco said Blackman, who had struggled some so far in his freshman campaign, is coming around.

“He’s found it. He’s starting to swing,” the head coach said.

Blackman, who was 3-for-5 in the contest with 3 RBI, said he was ready to win it.

“We had a man at third, and I wanted to put the best swing on it,” Blackman said. “When it came off the bat, I knew it was in the gap or he was going to make a diving catch. Even if he’d have made the diving catch, I’d have been fine with that too, because the run gets home. It was a great feeling.”

Golsan, the freshman who was 2-for 5 on the day with 2 RBI and 3 runs scored, said the team was ready to rally in the ninth.

“We just wanted to stay in the game and keep fighting,” he said. “(The pitchers) kept us in the game and did a terrific job on the mound. And then we had that good (offensive) ninth inning. Get the win and get going for the weekend, and that’s what we did.”

Golsan said his approach was to make something happen there in the ninth since the team needed two runs to keep the game going.

“I just tried to get my best swing off,” he said, with the same approach that apparently worked as Blackman said he had. “I looked over at Coach Bianco and he told me to shorten my swing up and get something I could hit. And that’s what I did.”

Mitchel Babb, the fourth Rebel pitcher on the day, got the win and is now 1-0. He pitched the final third of an inning and got a groundout to end the top of the ninth.

John Wesley Ray (2 runs, 1 earned, on 2 hits, facing only two batters) and Sam Smith (2.1 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit, 8 batters faced) pitched in relief before Babb.

Evan Anderson had started and went 6.1 innings, allowing four runs, three earned, on seven hits two strikeouts and two walks.

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