Late-Night Winner

Alex Yarbrough's bottom of the 11th single up the middle was a fairly ordinary hit that will be talked about for a while around these parts. Or at least until Sunday afternoon.

There were two outs and Rebels were on first and third with the score tied when the freshman from Allen, Texas, awaited a 3-2 pitch from LSU reliever Matty Ott. And then he swung his team to a series win as Ole Miss beat LSU 9-8 after capturing game one 11-9 earlier in the day.

"I hit a fastball on 3-2 (count)," said Yarbrough, who has had some special moments so far in his first season in college but likely none moreso than this one. "He started me out with a changeup, and I was thinking fastball the whole time. I think I got the one changeup and all the rest of the pitches were fastballs. I just tried to get the foot down early and react to it."

And when he did, the remaining several thousand of two crowds that totaled almost 19,000 reacted to that. Not long afterward there was a celebration of at least minor proportions on the field where the two teams had just spent eight hours of 20-inning baseball.

Mike Bianco

"Two great games for us," said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco after his team moved to 27-13 overall and 10-7 in Southeastern Conference play. "A long day at the ballpark."

It was a battle all day. Even after the Rebels won game one, the Tigers came out swinging and made a statement early. Aaron Barrett, so solid most of this season, saw the visitors put up a four spot in the first and put his team in a hole.

But the Rebels battled back from what became a 5-0 deficit and tied it 5-5 with four runs of their own in a big bottom of the fourth.

It was Yarbrough at that time who swung a bat that got things rolling. LSU had just replaced starter Joey Bourgeois with reliever Jordan Rittiner. Yarbrough's apparent routine hit toward third baseman Grant Dozar became an error when the Tiger's throw to first baseman Blake Dean got past him and to the wall at the box seats.

Two Rebs scored but there was more to come quickly. Yarbrough was only on base for a moment as Taylor Hashman sent one out of the playing area and into the left field home team bullpen.

Now things were all even, and the struggles of the top of the first seemed days away. Or at least hours.

LSU never would regain the lead, and Ole Miss went up 8-5 in the bottom of the fifth. Yarbrough figured in things again as he was hit by a Rittiner pitch to load the bases full of Rebs.

Then, in an almost familiar moment, it was Hashman again, this time with a double to the right center gap, that cleared the bases and gave his team that three-run lead.

Matt Tracy came in to relieve Barrett to start the seventh, and that move didn't work. The Rebel junior LHP had pitched two innings in the first game and done well.

Matt Crouse

Not so in this one. He pitched a third of an inning, facing five batters and allowing three runs on four hits, the last run coming after Trent Rothlin had already replaced him.

At 8-8 Rothlin was able to stop the bleeding, thanks to a play at the plate which ended things right there.

Then came several more innings of baseball with both teams having a shot to win it at various times. Yarbrough said it was finally time to end it, so he did.

"I definitely wanted to get the hit there," said Yarbrough, who had sent a ball to deep center field in the 10th that would have ended it had it gone out for his first home run of the season.

"It had been a really long day, and I was glad I could help the team get off the field and get ready for tomorrow and try to sweep."

Ole Miss had 11 hits to the Tigers' 10 in the nightcap. The finale is set for 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

Matt Crouse, sensational in relief at the end of this one, went 2.2 innings and allowed just one hit and no damage with four strikeouts and a walk. He got the win and is 4-1 on the season.

The loser was Ott, who fell to 1-1. But Yarbrough has much respect for the last of four LSU pitchers in this contest.

"Matty Ott's a great pitcher, a freshman All-American last year," said Yarbrough, who's having a memorable first campaign but is not quite to that status yet.

But it's April, so there is still time.


OM Spirit Top Stories