Sweep Complete

There were so many dimensions, layers, and moving parts to Ole Miss’ 8-7 comeback win against Mississippi State Saturday night, one question begs. Where to start?

One, at least, was when Wyatt Short trotted down to the bullpen at a fast pace to warmup as the Rebels mounted their comeback in the ninth. And then to pitch for the third straight game.

Short told the media Friday night after finishing up game two that he would be ready if called upon in game three. And he was. The sophomore left-hander closed all three games, got saves the first two nights and the win in the finale.

Or maybe Nic Perkins. There’s a story. The Rebels needed someone to step up and hit the baseball in crucial situations. Since getting some playing time starting last weekend at Missouri, the freshman catcher now DH’ing, came through with the winning hit against State on Saturday night.

Sophomore left-hander Evan Anderson relieved starter Scott Weathersby after the senior went five innings and gave the Rebels all he had. Anderson’s bright spots have been few and far between. Against MSU Saturday, he was as important as anyone with his three innings of one run, two hit, three strikeout, one walk work.

Jacob Waguespack came in after pitching two innings Friday night and pitched the ninth on Saturday. After Anderson had given up a single, Waguespack relieved him and the Bulldogs scored a couple of runs – one attributed to Anderson and one to Waguespack.

So it’s hard to say Rebel pitching kept their team in it since MSU led 7-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth inning. They had, however, actually given Ole Miss a chance to that point, had the Rebel offense done much.

Sikes Orvis, already with two solo home runs on the day for the Rebels’ lone runs, singled to open the ninth off MSU starter Austin Sexton who was still in the game.

After Austin Knight flied out, J.B. Woodman walked. MSU head coach John Cohen replaced Sexton with Zac Houston, and Perkins fouled out to the catcher.

With Rebels on first and second and two down, things looked bleak. But the fun for Ole Miss was just beginning.

Kyle Watson walked off pitcher Houston, and Henri Lartigue pinch hit for Cameron Dishon. Lartigue was hit by a Houston pitch to score Orvis and make it 7-3.

Errol Robinson singled to score Woodman. Will Golsan walked to score Watson. That made it 7-5.

Cohen then went to another pitcher, Dakota Hudson. Up stepped Colby Bortles who delivered a 2-RBI single up the middle that tied the game, scoring both Lartigue and Robinson. Orvis struck out and things moved to the tenth.

Enter Short, one of the most dependable Rebel closers in recent years. Two strikeouts and a groundout later, the Rebel offense was ready to try to win it.

Knight led off the bottom of the tenth with a walk. Woodman sac bunted him to second. Knight advanced to third on a passed ball. And on a chopper that bounded over the infielders heads and into left field, Tate Blackman, pinch running for Knight, headed home for the win.

Ole Miss, with three wins against State and now four in a row after beating Missouri last Sunday, moved to 28-24 overall and 14-13 in Southeastern Conference play.

Mississippi State is now 24-27 and 8-19.

The Rebels have already qualified for the 12-team (of 14) Southeastern Conference Tournament in two weeks. Mississippi State has not.

The Rebels travel to Arkansas State for a non-conference game Tuesday night before returning home Thursday through Saturday to face conference foe Texas A&M.

Quotable:

* Mike Bianco –

“They really outplayed us for the first eight innings. I was disappointed that offensively we weren’t doing much. And on defense there were some plays that weren’t errors but that we didn’t make.”

* On sending Wyatt Short to the bullpen in the ninth inning: “At one point I yelled at Errol and said ‘You’re the tying run. I don’t know if you realize this yet, but you’re the tying run.' That was a couple of batters before he got up. Once we got to that point, I wanted to make sure that (Short) was ready. He was already down in the pen and he could get loose fast. Two saves and a win. How special he was this weekend, pitching three days in a row against your arch-rival, and a Mississippi kid. A big weekend for Wyatt.”

* On Evan Anderson’s performance: “That’s another story that might get lost in this game. He really bridged it there for us. He held it together and gave us the opportunity.”

* On if the team is “finding itself” after a sweep of MSU: “We’ll see. We’ll see down the road. Four wins in a row now. Longest win streak of the year. That’s amazing. We’re playing much better now. You can see that, and the kids are playing with confidence.”

* On Connor Cloyd, who was injured in the Friday game: “It’s a strained oblique. Doctor saw him last night. Put him on some medicine and he had some treatment last night. No way he could play today. I don’t know about Tuesday, and I don’t want to get ahead of myself. I wouldn’t think he would play until this weekend (against Texas A&M).”

* Sikes Orvis-

* “When (the MSU pitcher) hit Henri Lartigue, I was like, maybe with bases loaded. Our guys just kept plugging away and getting big hits. Evan Anderson did a great job. Wyatt pitched a great top of the tenth. Knight had a big walk. J.B. had the bunt down. So proud of Nic. He’s been huge for us the past few games, and he got that big hit.”

* On just how crazy the game was: “It just shows, anything can happen. When I was walking up in the bottom of the ninth at that last at-bat, that was probably the loudest I’ve ever heard that stadium. I don’t have too many games left at Swayze. But this will go down as one of the better ones.”

* On sweeping State: “This is the next two last (regular season) weekend, and this is our first sweep of the season. Better late than never. It’s huge. We needed to play our best baseball at the end of the season, and we’re doing that. We know we have a tough weekend next weekend, and also the game Tuesday at Arkansas State. Every game is important.”

* Nic Perkins-

“Going into the (game-winning) at-bat, I knew the guy was a hard thrower with a sharp slider. Coach (Bianco) walked up to me and said ‘Just stay short and go up the middle of the field.’ I knew if I got a barrel on it, it would get the run in and we’d win.”

* On his actual hit and if he knew it was through: “I knew it was getting through at contact. I’m pretty good at chopping the ball in the ground and bouncing it over the infielders’ heads. When I hit it with their infield in, I knew it was going over his head.”

* On getting dogpiled at first base after the game-winning hit: “There was a lot of people laying on me. I didn’t know our team was so heavy. Everyone was down there punching me and all hyped up. But I liked it though.”


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