Ole Miss tops Florida in series finale
No. 22 Rebels capture weekend series from top-ranked Gators
OXFORD, Miss. -- With the game tied and the bases loaded in the ninth, the Rebels kept the pressure on the nation’s top-ranked team and pulled off the second rally of the afternoon as No. 22 Ole Miss (20-8, 5-4 SEC) defeated No. 1 Florida (24-4, 6-3 SEC) by a score of 7-6 on Sunday.
With the bases loaded and one out, Senquez Golson delivered a grounder down the first base line to Florida right fielder Preston Tucker, who was playing in as part of a six-man infield for the Gators. Tucker scooped the ball up and threw home in an attempt to get the force out of pinch-running Bobby Wahl, but the throw was off the mark and Wahl slid in safely at home to score the game-winning run.
A total of 27,991 fans packed Swayze Field over the weekend to watch the Rebels take on the top-ranked Gators. It was the largest weekend attendance in a regular-season series for the Rebels at O-U Stadium, and second largest attendance for a three-game series ever behind the 2009 Super Regional against Virginia that drew 29,646 over three days.
The win gave the Rebels the weekend series after they blanked the Gators 3-0 on Friday night. With the win, Ole Miss is now 11-3 in weekend series against top-10 teams in Oxford dating back to the 2003 season and 3-0 in series against top-ranked teams in series played in Oxford.
Ole Miss also claimed weekend series' against No. 1 South Carolina in 2011 and No. 1 Georgia in 2009.
Brett Huber (1-1) picked up the win as he worked the final 2.0 innings and held the Gators hitless with a strikeout to allow the Rebels to set up the game-winning rally.
Austin Maddox (2-1) suffered the loss for Florida, allowing the one run on two hits with three walks and two strikeouts in his 2.1 innings of work. Maddox entered the game with the score tied 6-6 and no outs following a game-tying double in the seventh, but got the Gators out of the jam to keep the score knotted 6-6 before Ole Miss would make its move in the ninth inning.
“We got off to a great start offensively and swung the bat well against a very good pitcher in Crawford,” Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said. “We got a five run lead and they did what we thought they would do which was come back swinging. It was like a heavyweight boxing match. It was similar to what they did [Saturday].
“I am proud of the way Aaron Greenwood came in and threw balls into the strike zone and ate up some outs for us,” Bianco said. “Alex [Yarbrough] had another great day and showed why he is such a great player in our league. Brett [Huber’s] effort gets a bit lost in all of this. He came in with the game tied for the first time this year and pitched two great innings and gave us the chance to win. This team has become more mentally tough. We are 3-3 in the league and about to go on a long road stretch for two weekends to play two top-25 teams. The question is how much do we grow from this as a team.”
The Rebels struck first, jumping out to a five-run lead after two innings of play.
Ole Miss got two runs in the first off an RBI triple from Yarbrough that was followed by a single to left from Snyder. The Rebels extended the lead in the second inning with a solo home run from Zach Kirksey to open the frame and a two-RBI double from Yarbrough to give the home team the 5-0 advantage.
Florida made a big cut into the lead in the fourth inning, putting together a four-run rally that was sparked by a lead-off home run from Daniel Piggot and put the score at 5-4.
The Gators tied the game in the sixth with a solo home run from Nolan Fontana and took the lead 6-5 on a solo shot from Tucker in the seventh.
Ole Miss responded in the bottom of the seventh, tying the game at six when Yarbrough scored on another RBI single from Snyder. Yarbrough reached on a single and moved to third on a throwing error to first by Bobby Poyner on a pickoff attempt. He tied things up on the single from Snyder.
The Rebels then put together the game-winning rally in the ninth.
Will Allen led things off with a single to right field before Ole Miss sent Friday night’s starting pitcher, Wahl, in to run for the Rebel catcher. Wahl then moved first to third on a single up the middle from Preston Overbey that saw Overbey take second on the throw to third in an attempt to get out Wahl.
Florida then intentionally walked Kirksey to load the bases and get to Golson. With the defensive alignment shifted for an extra infielder and only two outfielders, Golson delivered the grounder to first that brought Wahl home for the game-winning run to clinch the series.