Rebels even super regional series with Cajuns
LAFAYETTE, La. — Facing elimination, the Ole Miss Rebels found a way to keep their season going. Led by Christian Trent on the mound and couple with some timely hitting from Preston Overbey and Colby Bortles, the Rebels defeated Louisiana-Lafayette 5-2 in Game 2 of the Lafayette Super Regional Sunday night at Tigue Moore Field.
The victory now forces Game 3, with the winner between the Rebels and Ragin’ Cajuns heading to Omaha, Nebraska for the College World Series. Ole Miss has not advanced to the CWS since 1972, while Lafayette hasn’t been since 2000.
The Ragin’ Cajuns have also not lost back-to-back games during the 2014 season. Ole Miss is looking to win its first super regional under coach Mike Bianco, who was actually reminded about the history of not winning in four previous trips.
“Yes, we all know it. You got to win the game and the players know that. This team has been a terrific group all season long and I think they’re excited about it, about the opportunity to play a very good team at their park in front of their crowd,” Bianco said. “We’re looking forward to coming out (today) and playing real hard.”
Ole Miss (45-19) definitely played hard, and with more purpose than in the opener the Ragin’ Cajuns (58-9) won 9-5. Christian Trent, despite not earning the win on the mound, set the tone, logging seven strong innings. He limited one of the nation’s top offenses to just four hits, and one run, while striking out seven.
“He was terrific. I thought both guys pitched terrific, but (Trent) really had great fastball command. He was able to locate in and out and I’m just proud of him. After last night, we needed that effort,” Bianco said. “The kids kept battling and that’s what they did today. We just weren’t ourselves (Saturday). I thought we were a little tight for whatever reason in the first game. But we were more like ourselves today.”
Ole Miss finally got some breaks Sunday. Overbey’s solo home run to give Ole Miss a 2-1 lead in the seventh was one of those moments as he hit a mistake pitch deep to left field.
“He’s played so great hasn’t he? He had a big hit earlier and then the big home run and defensively he’s been terrific turning double plays,” Bianco said. “The run that scored, I think they gave him an error, but that was a tough play. We actually moved him right before the play, we moved him to the four hole so the play was much tougher for him. If he hadn’t moved him, it would have probably gone right to him.”
After the Ragin’ Cajuns tied the game in the top of the eighth, the Rebels scored three in the bottom half of the inning to put the game away. An error allowed Ole Miss’ Auston Bousfield to score the go-ahead run, while a single by Bortles scored two more with a single.
“He started (Saturday) against a right hander. He hasn’t really started much against right handers and the last few weeks, he’s been in when they bring in a left hander. It wasn’t really a surprise to anyone that we would bring him in when they went to the left hander there late in the game,” Bianco said. “I thought it was critical spot for a true freshman, with a lot on the line, to put the ball in play and find a hole.”
Aaron Greenwood improved to 3-1 on the year as he garnered the win on the mound, pitching the final two innings of relief of Trent.
Winner take all
Sam Smith (5-4, 3.39 ERA) will start Game 3 on the mound, Bianco said, while several others are ready to come out of the bullpen if needed.
“Sam has just been so consistent for us pitching in the three-hole on Sunday. He’s usually a guy that gets us to the middle, late innings and he keeps the game intact. He pitched in the championship game of the regional last weekend and really was terrific,” Bianco said. “We didn’t give him a lot of run support and help defensively, so he gets a no decision, but he was terrific for us last week. He’s really the guy that’s pitched the most for us on the weekends out of the three over his career.”