By: Jeff Roberson
Alex Lange was still all that.
Assessed by some, and statistics show, that he’s not been quite up to last season’s standard. But against Ole Miss Friday night, the sophomore righty went the distance in the Tigers’ 6-3 victory.
“He’s definitely a great pitcher, probably one of the best arms we’re going to face all year. He came through all nine innings and pitched a heck of a game,” said Rebel second baseman Tate Blackman. “He was pumping the zone, and his curve ball was working well. He had us a little off our feet. We definitely hit the ball hard today. People were just catching it.”
After LSU got a run in the top of the first inning off Rebel starter David Parkinson, Ole Miss came right back in the bottom of the first to double that and lead 2-1. It was J.B. Woodman with the big bat early, a two-run homer with Blackman aboard after the sophomore had tripled.
The Tigers kept tacking on runs with one in the second and two in the third, however, for a 4-2 lead. Ole Miss got a run in the fourth when Will Golsan singled after a Woodman base hit.
But down 4-3, the Rebels could get nothing further off Lange. Parkinson, 2-2 with the loss, lasted four and two-thirds.
“I thought he didn’t have great command today and made a couple of walks,” Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said of Parkinson. “The walks didn’t kill him, but I thought he pitched defensively. He wasn’t real aggressive into the strike zone. When you do that against a good offense, it’s tough.”
Rebel reliever Connor Green gave up a couple of runs in the sixth. Brady Feigl pitched the final two and two-thirds with no damage.
But the “damage” was actually already done. And Lange was just too much.
“Certainly he’s one of the best in the country and starting to really pitch well,” said Bianco after Lange (5-3) went nine innings allowing the three runs, two of them earned, on seven hits with seven strikeouts and a walk. “Maybe he wasn’t Lange-like early in the season, but he’s gotten it going.”
The Rebels (32-12, 11-9 SEC) and Tigers (28-15, 11-9) play an 11 a.m. game Saturday to decide the series.
“You’ve got to be ready to play, and you’ve got to want to compete in the Southeastern Conference,” Bianco said. “We didn’t play very well. (Lange) was really good on the mound. They get double-digit hits and they win the baseball game. They were better than we were today. We’ve got to come out and play better (Saturday)."
According to some “experts” who cover college baseball, the winner of this series could have an advantage as far as hosting a postseason NCAA Regional. Both would be in the mix, and potentially it could come down to either Ole Miss or LSU hosting.
“Every game is a big game,” Blackman said. “We’re going to come out tomorrow and be ready. Today was one of those days. We’re going to be ready and put some runs up in the first few innings.”