Bottom of the 9th home run dooms Rebs

Clay Harris lifts Tigers to win with bottom of the ninth solo home run.

BATON ROUGE, La. - Yesterday's win turns oftentimes into today's loss.

Ask Ole Miss reliever Tommy Baumgardner.

It's a shame we reporters didn't talk to him after Friday night's game, but his one and two-thirds innings pitched were almost lost somewhere between four and two-thirds of Mark Holliman's start and two and two-thirds of Stephen Head's closing.

With two solid relief appearances in two days, the junior left-hander from Lakeland, Fla., and Indian River Community College, got the winning decision in the series' first contest, a 14-8 Ole Miss win over LSU.

On Saturday, after watching a bottom of the ninth Clay Harris home run sail long and deep and out of the yard into the left field bleachers of Alex Box Stadium, Baumgardner was awarded the loss in a 7-6 setback at the hands of the Tigers.

Baumgardner said it was pretty easy to assess the final moment that doomed Ole Miss in this one, breaking a 6-6 tie in the game while tying the series at 1-1.

"I went in again today and did what I could," said Baumgardner, who has now made 12 appearances on the season. "I can't tell you how long it's been since I've been in games on back to back days. I felt fine out there, and I felt fine with the pitch I threw him. I had thrown some good pitches to him, and he had battled and fouled some off. He just put a good swing on it and what can you say. Sometimes that happens in baseball. It's a tough way to lose."

Baumgardner said the home run pitch was a knee-high fast ball inside, right where the pitch was called.

With one swing of the bat, the Tigers moved to 25-12 overall and 6-8 in the Southeastern Conference, while Ole Miss fell to 24-11 and 7-7.

The Tigers had been up 4-1 in this one before Ole Miss put up four runs in the top of the fifth to lead 5-4, the big blow a base-clearing three-run double by Mark Wright.

"We had some good swings that inning, and strung some things together," said Wright, whose hit that inning was his only one of the day. "He had been coming inside on me all day, so I was looking fast ball in. And that's what I got."

The Rebels added another run to make it 6-4 in the top of the seventh when Brian Pettway doubled home Stephen Head who had singled.

But the bottom of the seventh proved to be a momentum turner for the Tigers. In the inning, LSU, which had 17 hits on the day to UM's 10, got two runs and head coach Smoke Laval got ejected for arguing balls and strikes - with Clay Harris' brother, Walt, at bat.

By the end of the frame, the quieter than usual Tiger crowd was into it, being encouraged by a towel waving LSU team that sensed a positive turn of events. The Tigers had lost five straight SEC games coming into Saturday's contest, which hadn't happened to LSU baseball since 1983 when Jack Lamabe was the head coach.

Ole Miss couldn't get anything going offensively the rest of the way, and Baumgardner had them shut down - until he and Clay Harris went at it to lead off the bottom of the ninth. Harris had a grand slam in the Friday night game for the Tigers as well.

"We threw him a couple of curve balls, and then we threw him a fast ball away," UM head coach Mike Bianco said. "Then we went back with another curve ball and then tried to sneak a fast ball in. Obviously that wasn't the right pitch, and he hit it pretty good. Tommy didn't give in and he did what he was supposed to do. Sometimes it's a coin flip, and sometimes you are just on the wrong side of it."

Head says the Rebels need to be on the right side Sunday.

"Somebody's coming out of here with a series win who hasn't had one in a while," Head said. "We'd better be on the right end of it tomorrow."

Eric Fowler (Jr., LHP, 2-1, 3.76 ERA) will start for Ole Miss in the 1 p.m. game, while Greg Smith (Jr., LHP, 4-2, 3.29 ERA) will start for LSU.

Ole Miss' last series win in Baton Rouge against LSU was in 1982 when the Rebels won two of three games.

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