The Rebels had their foot on the Bulldogs' throat with the big guns up and one out in the bottom of the eighth. The bases were loaded. I want Zack Cozart and Cody Overbeck up every time in that situation. So did those attending. It's why 7,000 were on their feet awaiting what all probably felt would be the game-winning moment.
With Cody Satterwhite on the mound in the late innings, State might have felt that way, too.
On a day when most decisions didn't work out from an execution perspective for Ole Miss, they mostly worked just fine for Mississippi State.
I won't go back through most of them. Ron Polk summed it up best: "Ole Miss had so many chances." He was right, too.
The Rebels had chance after chance to sweep State and keep nipping at the heels of Arkansas and also put more distance between themselves and the arch-rival.
Earlier in the game a ball hit off the bat of Cozart caught Justin in the foot as he ran from second to third in the bottom of the sixth. That should have made us raise an eyebrow that this might be one of those days. Not necessarily a loss, but some uncommon things had already been going on.
Justin would have either scored or stopped at third. Overbeck's fly ball after that would have gotten him home had he not scored. Oh well, one of those days. It would become one of those long days. It tied for the longest game in Ole Miss baseball history with a 17-inning, 5-4 win over Arizona in Oxford six seasons ago, Mike Bianco's first year here.
State's senior leader Jeffrey Rea said after Saturday's game he would make sure his team was ready to play on Sunday. Then he went out and jump-started ‘em. He stretched a single to right into a two-bagger after Jordan Henry bobbled it trying to pick it up. Ed Easley drove him in two batters later.
The Rebels' lone run of the game actually came off a balk called against Josh Johnson in the bottom of the fifth. There was one out, and it was right after Evan Button singled and right before C.J. Ketchum was thrown a pitch. The first pitch Johnson threw him, C.J. drove in Button with a base hit.
But don't forget that first out in the bottom of the fifth. It was the foul ball call on Zach Miller, who eventually struck out, when the ball he hit down the third base line looked fair. With Miller on second, and then Button getting the base hit, then the balk, then the Ketchum single....oh well, too much what might have been there.
"The lines are kind of hard to see here," said Polk, pleased with that fact, I am sure.
The game was tied 1-1. It was the bottom of the fifth, and who knew?
Who knew it would stay that way for 12 more innings?
The Dogs felt they were robbed in the top of the eighth. Easley was thrown out from Cozart to Button to end it after a big hop looked like he might be safe at first. It would have scored a run to give MSU a 2-1 lead after Mark Goforth got a leadoff base hit with Rea sac bunting him over; then with Goforth moving to third on a Joseph McCaskill ground out.
Then came that bottom of the eighth and the biggest "what might have been" inning of the day for the Rebs.
Clearly the brightest spots of this one for Ole Miss were the sensational pitching performances of Nathan Baker and Cody Satterwhite, and the stellar defensive play of the Rebs.
Baker can be something special here. Last week against South Carolina he must have remembered he was a freshman. The two previous Sundays against Georgia and LSU and again against State, we saw the potential makings of a star – if he will just think veteran from now on and not freshman.
After all, when you've pitched in these wars, with huge Sunday games in Oxford and one in Baton Rouge, you aren't a freshman anymore.
There are some who are ready to jump back on the horse and ride again. They wish the Rebs were playing today to move past that Sunday marathon.
I'm glad there isn't a game until Wednesday. I think everybody, including players and coaches, needs a day or two before saddling up again.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
It has been mentioned here and elsewhere about the difficulties of the weekend for the Fowlers and the Hancocks.
Eric's dad Johnny was a big supporter of the Rebels and of Eric. It was great to see Eric become such a force on the Rebels' pitching staff two years ago and help lead Ole Miss to its first Super Regional. Johnny lost his short but very difficult battle with cancer Saturday. His service was today in Grenada County.
I don't think I ever met Josh Hancock. Of course, I covered Jon-Jon during his time here, and that afforded me the opportunity to renew ties with that family.
Josh and Jon-Jon's dad, Dean, and I share the same alma mater. I was a child when Dean played basketball at Baldwyn, and I was one of those kids who got to the games early to get a front row seat at the gym. Dean went on to star at Delta State.
It's been nice to reconnect with those memories of childhood with Dean and his family.
Our hearts go out to our friends the Fowlers and the Hancocks during these difficult days.
Rebs move on after marathon game
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