A happy day in Oxford Rebels stun top-ranked Florida in ninth

Published 11:43 am Monday, April 2, 2012

With a curfew looming, a sold-out crowd buzzing, a pitcher running at third base and an outfielder pulled into the infield, how could the series between Ole Miss and Florida have anything but a wild conclusion?

Pitcher Bobby Wahl, in as a pinch-runner, scored the winning run on a throwing error in the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday, and Ole Miss stunned top-ranked Florida with a 7-6 victory in Oxford.

With the win, Ole Miss (20-8, 5-4 Southeastern Conference) handed Florida (24-4, 6-3) its first series loss of the season.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

The wacky finish was a fitting end to a wild game. Florida rallied from a 5-0 deficit to take a 6-5 lead in the seventh inning on a solo home run by Preston Tucker. Ole Miss tied it in the bottom of the inning with an RBI double by Matt Snyder, then won it in the ninth on an odd sequence that started moments before the SEC’s 3:45 p.m. travel curfew was set to kick in. No innings are allowed to start after that time in Sunday games, so it would have ended in a tie if the Rebels hadn’t scored.

Will Allen led off with a single and was replaced on the basepaths by Wahl. Preston Overbey followed with another single, then Zack Kirksey was intentionally walked to load the bases and set up a force play at home plate.

The Gators brought in Tucker from right field to serve as a fifth infielder, and the plan worked to perfection. Ole Miss freshman Senquez Golson hit a grounder right to Tucker, who threw toward the plate — and over the head of the catcher. Wahl scored the winning run as the Rebels and a sellout crowd of 8,616 fans went wild.

“This team has become more mentally tough. We are 5-4 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,” said Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco, whose Rebels play at Kentucky and Georgia the next two weekends.

The three-game series drew a total of 27,991 fans, an Ole Miss record for a regular-season series.

Alex Yarbrough went 4-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs scored for Ole Miss, Kirksey hit a solo homer, and Allen and Snyder had two hits apiece. Tucker, Nolan Fontana and Daniel Pigott all hit solo homers for Florida.

Ole Miss will return to action Tuesday, when it plays Southern Miss at Trustmark Park in Pearl.