Rebels force Game 3 in super regional

Published 10:03 am Monday, June 9, 2014

By The Associated Press

LAFAYETTE, La. — On a national level, Colby Bortles has a long way to go to escape the shadow of his more famous older brother.

In Oxford, Miss., however, he’s quickly becoming a legend.

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The freshman broke open the game with a two-run, pinch-hit single during Ole Miss’ three-run eighth inning Sunday night as the Rebels beat Louisiana-Lafayette 5-2 to tie their super regional series at a game apiece.

The teams will play a deciding Game 3 tonight at 6 in Lafayette.

Ole Miss scored the go-ahead run when center fielder Seth Harrison dropped a flyball hit by Will Allen. Sikes Orvis then singled to load the bases, setting it up for Bortles — the younger brother of Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback and first-round NFL draft pick Blake Bortles.

In his last 12 games, Colby Bortles is hitting .438 (7-for-16), with two home runs and 12 RBIs. He had two hits and drove in two runs in a clinching win over Washington in the regional round.

“That’s the game and the game has crazy things that happen to it,” Rebels coach Mike Bianco said. “If you’re there for 60-something games, you see all kinds of stuff. Some of those breaks go your way. You just have to keep battling and that’s what the kids did.

“We locked in and hung in there.”

Louisiana-Lafayette, the consensus No. 1 in both the Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball polls, had its five-game winning streak snapped. The Ragin’ Cajuns have not lost back-to-back games this season.

The Cajuns will have homefield advantage tonight, though, in raucous M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field. More than 4,200 fans have packed the place for each of the first two games of the series — the stadium has a listed capacity of 3,755 — and created a party-like atmosphere that will be amped up even more tonight for perhaps the biggest game in the history of both programs.

“We’ve been doing this the whole year,” ULL center fielder Seth Harrison said. “In practice and in full games, the whole thing is to respond. We did it last week in the regionals, and I don’t think there’s any better way than to do it and to get to Omaha that way. All year we’ve responded and that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to come out (Monday) and we’re going to win.”

Preston Overbey hit a solo home run in the seventh inning to put the Rebels (45-19) up 2-1, but Blake Trahan answered for the Ragin’ Cajuns (58-9) with an RBI single in the eighth. Trahan’s hit scored Mike Strentz from second to tie it at 2.

Overbey said the Rebels have been in this situation before and the experience allowed them to stay up and get the three-run eighth.

“We knew it was a matter of time before it exploded,” Overbey said. “We came back in the dugout and told everyone to stay up, keep positive and get someone on.”

Louisiana-Lafayette got a leadoff double from Caleb Adams in the top of the ninth inning, but Ole Miss reliever Aaron Greenwood buckled down and retired the next three batters in order to send the series to a Game 3.

Greenwood (3-1) allowed the run in the eighth, but managed to get the win in relief of starter Christian Trent. Trent allowed one unearned run and struck out seven in seven innings as he dueled with ULL’s Carson Baranik (11-2).

“My routine stayed the same and I felt the same going out there,” Trent said. “Nothing really changed. Normally off-speed plays a bigger role, but tonight the fastball was what I used a lot.”

Baranik went seven-plus innings, but was charged with three runs — including the go-ahead run in the eighth, which was given up by reliever Ryan Wilson. Baranik gave up six hits and four walks, and struck out four.

“It almost sometimes can help you when you’re going back-and-forth like that. Not a lot of time in between innings, you stay warm and you stay ready,” Baranik said. “It actually helped me to find a rhythm and settle down. In the first couple of innings I didn’t really feel great, and I feel like it helped me to catch my rhythm.”

Ole Miss scored in the first inning when Allen doubled to right field, scoring Austin Anderson from first base and giving the Rebels a 1-0 lead.

A pair of errors by the Rebels scored Louisiana-Lafayette’s first run when Overbey made an errant throw to first that allowed Harrison to reach. Dylan Butler then doubled and Harrison ran past third. The throw to Allen, the Ole Miss catcher, was in time, but he dropped the ball and Harrison scored.

“Nobody could get the right hit at the right time,” ULL coach Tony Robichaux said. “We gave them a little crack and they crawled through it. Give them credit.”

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