Fergalicious Finish

Tim Ferguson launched a pitch over the Swayze Field wall to end Friday's contest and deliver a 7-6 win for the Rebels. Go inside for the story.

The only remnants remaining 20 minutes after were scattered slivers of shaving cream and a jubilated portion of players' parents chanting and cheering above the Ole Miss dugout.

A just departed gathering of 4,624 fans finished witnessing a magical moment at Swayze Field. By Saturday afternoon, many more will most likely be claiming to have seen it.

Clinging to fading bits of optimism due to being down four runs in the seventh inning, Ole Miss (32-19, 13-12) chipped away for two at-bats and provided a noteworthy dramatic spectacle on this final Friday of regular season baseball in Oxford.

Singles by Matt Smith and Michael Guerrero set the stage, and freshman Tim Ferguson delivered the definitive blow with a two-strike, three-run walkoff shot that eased the tension around postseason play and devastated Auburn 7-6 in the series opener.

As the ball flew 412 feet out of the park, a range of emotions developed. Ferguson heard first base coach Matt Mossberg screaming in celebration and promptly threw his helmet in the air. The right field student section unleashed libations at the sight of the ball clearing the wall, and Auburn (26-24, 10-15) coach Tom Slater sat in a motionless stunned stupor.

Ferguson, smiling and receiving congratulations from nearly everyone in Red and Blue remaining on the premises, approached interviews and began explaining the shortstop situation when one bit of business remained – the act of freshman hazing.

Junior Brett Bukvich interrupted the interview with a towel full of shaving cream to Ferguson's face. The response was simply a bewildered smirk. After the self-proclaimed "biggest moment of his baseball career," the Beaumont Texas native couldn't be rattled by something so trivial. He went right back to explaining the night.

"It was a slider right where I wanted it and where I was looking," Ferguson said. "I pointed to the sky and thanked God. I got excited with the ball halfway to the plate. I knew he left it up."

The riveting come-from-behind win pushes Ole Miss back above .500 in league play, as they remain a half game behind LSU and even with Alabama in the Western Division. The Rebels and Tigers return to the field Saturday at 4 p.m.

Reliever Jake Morgan (2-0) held Auburn at bay for 2.1 innings to pick up the win. The right-hander struckout four and didn't allow a hit. Morgan relieved Lance Lynn, who was solid except for surrendering back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning to Mike Bianucci and Hunter Morris.

Lynn punched out 11 in 6.2 frames, including five straight at one point. His first-inning strikeout of Bianucci was the 300th of his career. The junior leads the career strikeout list at Ole Miss.

"Morgan is just tremendous and has really come on to be a huge role on our team," Mike Bianco said.

Fuller Smith agreed. "Jake just shuts it down."

On the opposite end, Auburn closer Bryan Woodall, who is fourth in the nation in saves with 11, fell to 0-2 with the loss. Starter Grant Dayton worked a career-long 7.2 innings but received a no-decision after striking out six and allowing six hits and four runs.

The home run was the hit of choice for Ole Miss with Cody Overbeck (14), Fuller Smith (7) and Ferguson (3) all going deep. Overbeck and Zach Miller produced multiple hits.

Overbeck connected for a two-run shot in the first inning for the early lead, and the Tigers used an Ole Miss error and a double to cut the deficit to 2-1 in the top of the third.

Then in the fifth inning, the Tigers seized a three-run lead thanks to the two longballs. Another run was added in the seventh before the Rebels began the comeback.

Miller ripped an RBI single to score Matt Smith in the seventh, and Fuller Smith's home run in the eighth pulled the Auburn lead to two entering the ninth.

"We were dead, but Lance Lynn came in after coming out and yelled at us and got us fired up," Ferguson said. "Motivational speaking if you know what I mean. It energized us…We just need to have it carry on. Tomorrow is another day, but this feels great. Not much better."


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