After Christian Trent gave up a surprising 2-run home run in the first inning when Christin Stewart launched one out of the park, the Rebel ace settled down nicely and made it through six innings.
Drake Robison (7th inning) and Jacob Waguespack (8th inning and into the 9th inning) got the Rebels almost completely through the rest of the way. But Waguespack had bases loaded and no outs in the ninth when Wyatt Short, the staff’s Mr. Dependable, came in to finish things off.
In the top of the ninth, Waguespack gave up a single, a hit batter, and a single to load the bases with no outs. It was Stewart, already with nine home runs, who was up again. But this time, with bases loaded and his team trailing by five, he only singled in one run.
That’s when Short came in and took over, got a strike out and two ground outs – the first which got the final run home and the last which was the final out of the game.
Golsan paced the Rebels (16-14 overall, 5-5 SEC) with a 3-for-5 night with four RBI and a run scored. Two of his hits were doubles.
“Three hits and he’s really been swinging it well for us at the top of the lineup,” Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said of Golsan. “Some big hits, not just getting on base but some RBI. He was huge tonight. Will, Connor Cloyd, Austin Knight. Knight had three walks and a single. Sikes (Orvis) had a big home run. When you spread it out throughout the lineup, and especially when you get the timely hit, the hits with the runners on has been huge.”
After Trent’s early shakiness and UT’s 3-0 lead through the top of the second, the veteran rallied and settled in, at one point sitting down nine in a row.
“Your ace has got to be able to weather the blows,” Bianco said. “It’s not always going to be perfect, and there are not a lot of Friday nights in the SEC where it’s 10-7. He gave up the three, and (Tennessee) did a great job (offensively) early. They swung the bat and had a lot of momentum. We’ve got to mix it up more. We’ve got to find that breaking ball. He didn’t have his breaking ball early in the strike zone. Better fastball command. It wasn’t like he fell behind and got in trouble with walks or bad counts. You’ve really got to credit them. He finally found his breaking ball and was able to put some zeroes up.”
The run support to tie the game in the second inning with three runs and then follow that up with six more runs over the next three innings was big.
Bianco didn’t want to have to turn to Short at the end, but the Rebels had to get this one.
“With a six-run lead at one point and five-run lead (in the ninth), you hope you don’t have to go to him,” Bianco said. “But that’s why you have him, bases loaded, tying run at the plate. He gets a big strikeout and a couple of ground balls. He’s been huge for us.”
Golsan was not a starter early in the season. But he’s gotten more playing time and done well defensively at second base while offensively being very productive. His batting average of .333 leads the team among regular players, the freshman from New Hope having started 18 games and played in 26.
Bianco said Golsan has been effective much of the season.
“The thing I’m proud of is he’s kept his head up, and when he’s gotten the opportunity, he’s done well,” Bianco said.
“I’ve just tried to stay within myself, be short to the ball, and know what I can do,” Golsan said. “Just be the player that I can be. Just shorten up and drive the ball, have quick hands and be short to it.”
Cloyd has been good at the plate as well when he’s gotten the chance. He’s started four games, played in 16, and has actually been in more games recently.
“He does the one thing nobody else does. He doesn’t strike out,” Bianco said of Cloyd, who after his 2-for-3 game is batting .353 this season. “He runs and moves the ball, and it was his turn. He’s made the most of it and has given us some great at-bats and bigtime hits.”
“We’ve been swinging it good,” said Cloyd, who DH’ed in this one. “The whole team today combined had a good effort. I’m just thankful for the opportunity to get in the lineup. The most important thing is the team winning.”
The Rebels had 13 hits in this one, just like they had 13 hits in Memphis Tuesday night in a 7-5 victory.
Trent (5-2) got the win, while Short got his fifth save of the campaign. UT starter Kyle Serrano (2-4) got the loss and left the game when a ball hit back to him bounced off his lower leg. He limped off the field with assistance. That was in the third inning.
Ole Miss and Tennessee (12-14, 2-8) play game two of the series at 4 p.m. Saturday.
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