Rebels blast Cajuns to advance to Omaha, CWS
LAFAYETTE, La. — A dog pile never hurt so good for Ole Miss pitcher Josh Laxer. Caught at the bottom of the celebration following the Rebels’ 10-4 win over Louisiana-Lafayette in Game 3 of the super regional Monday night, Laxer didn’t mind a little pain.
For the first time since 1972, the Rebels are headed back to Omaha, Nebraska to play for a national championship in college baseball. Ole Miss captured the Lafayette Super Regional title, ending an 0-4 mark in the round under coach Mike Bianco.
Laxer earned the save in the victory, his sixth of the season. He said that it was a dream to have pitched in a win that led to Omaha.
“Honestly being out there in a close game, it’s something I’ve been prepared for all year. With the run support I got at the end of my outing, I couldn’t have asked for more,” Laxer said. “With the team that (Lafayette) has, it helped with my confidence out there. At that point, Coach B just preached to me about filling up the strike zone with that kind of lead and that’s what I did. To get that last out, it’s every college baseball player’s dream. I can’t put it into words what it feels like right now.”
For catcher Will Allen, the feeling of winning a super regional and being a part of the team that was able to punch its ticket to Omaha, was hard to really explain in words.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling for sure. Coming in here with Austin Anderson and being here for four years, and having our ups and downs, playing with different teammates and teams, we just wanted this year to be special,” Allen said. “We wanted to leave a legacy. We credit the coaching staff for everything that they’ve done during our careers. And then this group of guys. They’ve fought through adversity all year long. I think you saw that in this regional, winning two straight games against a really good team.”
Ole Miss (46-19) definitely got great relief pitching and a lot of offense, especially late, to garner the win in the decisive third game against the No. 6 national seed Ragin’ Cajuns (58-10). UL-L won the opener of the best-of-three series 9-5, but the Rebels refused to give in, winning 5-2 Sunday night to set up Monday’s matchup at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field.
A number of Rebels played major roles in the victory. From Holt Perdzock’s two-run triple in the ninth, to Scott Weathersby earning the win in relief of starter Sam Smith. Anderson had a two-run home run in the fourth to put the Rebels on the board, while Sikes Orvis added a solo shot later in the frame.
As important as both home runs were, the play of the game for the Rebels came on defense in the bottom of the seventh when left fielder Braxton Lee and Errol Robinson executed a perfect relay in to prevent the Cajuns, who had not lost back-to-back games all season, from tying the game at 5.
Allen perfectly blocked the plate, allowing him to catch the relay throw from Robinson and then tag out Caleb Adams at the plate.
“We saw the ball go down the line on similar plays (Sunday) night. With Braxton being as quick as he is, he was able to get to the ball and get it Errol Robinson, who was able to get a great throw and give me an opportunity to put a tag on the guy,” Allen said. “I had a little bit more time than (Sunday) night to catch the ball and make a tag. After that, getting the call and getting the out, it was huge.”
Bianco called this year’s team special, and credited their toughness for overcoming a deficit to earn the trip to Omaha.
“I told the boys in the outfield that when I left LSU, we had gone to Omaha four times in five years and won three national titles and boy did (former LSU coach) Skip Bertman make it look so easy,” Bianco said. “As a young coach at McNeese State, starting out, there for three years, you felt like if you got your team and coach them up, you would get to Omaha. I didn’t think it would it take 17 years from the last time, but it’s been great, a great run. We’ve had several great teams and teams that should have been in Omaha. The emotions and all of that, I’m very thankful, but I’m very happy for this group, this university, this fan base that is second to none.”
Ole Miss peppered UL-L starter Cody Boutte, who suffered his first loss of the year, for five hits and four runs in four innings. A total of seven pitchers follow Boutte and none were successful at stopping the Rebels on offense.
Anderson and Auston Bousfield each had two hits to lead the Rebels. Lee and Perdzock each had two RBIs. Ole Miss had eight RBIs on nine hits, while J.B. Woodman scored a run on a sacrifice fly in the ninth.
Here is the last out, and the celebration following the game.