Game Story By: Jeff Roberson
HOOVER, Ala. - Brady Bramlett started Tuesday against Georgia in the SEC Tournament after starting Thursday at Texas A&M in the regular season’s series finale. It was out in College Station that the decision was made to start the Rebel ace here.
“During a rain delay at Texas A&M, and we knew we’d play on Tuesday and Brady would get the ball,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco, his team a 5-1 winner against Georgia to advance. “We said, ‘Hey, can you just hold them at bay until we can score some runs? You don’t have to give us six or seven; just give us three or four innings.’ He certainly did that.”
Indeed he did. Bramlett got the start against the Bulldogs and went four innings, only five days after he had pitched that opener at Texas A&M. Tuesday he gave up only one run, a first-inning solo homer by Stephen Wrenn as the Rebels got by Georgia.
“I felt great today, granted it was short rest,” said Bramlett, who allowed three hits, in addition to the one run, with two strikeouts and a walk. “But my body felt good. I was going to go out there and compete, regardless of how I felt. That was the mindset anytime you start, to give your team the best chance to win.”
The Rebel offense didn’t get going until the fourth inning when they scored four runs. Georgia starter Heath Holder kept his team in it until the Ole Miss bats came to life in that frame.
After Will Golsan walked and Tate Blackman singled, J.B. Woodman tripled to make it 2-1. After that, Henri Lartigue was hit by a Holder pitch and Colby Bortles doubled to make it 4-1.
In the fifth inning, Golsan singled and Woodman doubled him home.
On the day, Woodman had a double and a triple and three RBI. Bramlett said that was a major key to the victory.
“It makes it a lot easier when your superman has a double and a triple,” said Bramlett, now 8-3 on the season.
There were two outs in the top of the first inning when Wrenn launched a shot over the left field wall. Bramlett hit the next Bulldog batter and walked the next. The bases were loaded, and the Rebels might have been in trouble early.
“After the home run the mindset is to make the big pitch and get off the field,” Bramlett said.
That he did. Trevor Kieboom arrived at the plate with an opportunity to put his team up significantly before the Rebels had ever come up to the plate. And on the first pitch he saw, the pitch Bramlett wanted and needed to make, Kieboom lined out a long drive to Woodman in shallow centerfield.
Georgia head coach Scott Stricklin said it was a moment that could have swung things in his team’s favor. But Bramlett got it done.
“They got a quality start out of Brady,” he said. “He was able to get through that first inning. I think that was the key. We had the bases loaded, and Trevor Kieboom hit a ball right on the nose, right at the center fielder. That’s the difference between 1-0 and 3-0. I think it’s a different game from there. (Bramlett) settled in and did a good job, got them into the middle of the game, and their bullpen took over.”
Stricklin said he remembered the Rebel bullpen from the series in early May in Athens, when Ole Miss won two of three games.
“That’s a big key to their team. Their bullpen is very strong,” he said.
Georgia had some other opportunities, as did Ole Miss. The Bulldogs left seven on base and the Rebels eight.
Bianco called on Brady Feigl to start the fifth inning and the freshman went three innings, allowing three hits and no damage with three strikeouts. Will Stokes and Wyatt Short combined to pitch the final two frames. After Stokes gave up a single to start the ninth, Short came on for the final three outs.
“I thought Ole Miss played very well,” Stricklin said. “Ole Miss is a top ten team for a reason. We had our chances. I hate it ended like this, but I’m proud of my team.”
Ole Miss (41-16) moves on and Georgia (27-30) goes home. David Parkinson gets the start on the mound for the Rebels Wednesday.
Bianco said the Rebels did what he had hoped they would on Tuesday.
“I thought we played well today. It’s the Tuesday game, elimination day. There’s so much pressure on you to play well or you go home,” he said. “Sometimes it goes as scripted. Today it did.”
Wednesday, in game two of the day Ole Miss will play South Carolina, the champion of the SEC East. The Gamecocks swept the Rebels in March in Oxford.
“That seems like such a long time ago, and they’ve had such a tremendous year,” Bianco said. “They can really pitch it - their starters and their bullpen - and their offense is terrific. They just play the game well.”
On Tuesday, elimination day, Ole Miss did as well.
Now it’s on to Wednesday and to Thursday, and to try for more of the same.