Ole Miss punches ticket to CWS

Published 10:00 am Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Ole Miss players celebrate after beating Louisiana-Lafayette in Game 3 of an NCAA super regional on Monday. Ole Miss advanced to the College World Series for the first time since 1972. (Ole Miss Sports Information)

Ole Miss players celebrate after beating Louisiana-Lafayette in Game 3 of an NCAA super regional on Monday. Ole Miss advanced to the College World Series for the first time since 1972. (Ole Miss Sports Information)

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — Four decades of also-ran status and one decade of sheer agony washed away in a sea of humanity on a Louisiana infield Monday night.

Pinch-hitter Holt Perdzock’s double in the ninth inning sparked a four-run rally and Ole Miss ended a 42-year College World Series drought by beating Louisiana-Lafayette 10-4 in the deciding Game 3 of the Lafayette Super Regional.

The trip to Omaha is the first for Ole Miss since 1972. The Rebels had failed to advance in four previous super regional appearances. In three of those super regionals, they lost the best-of-three series after winning Game 1.

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“The road to Omaha is bumpy and windy,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “When you go, you have to have a special group. This group is certainly all of that.”

Bianco will be making his first trip to the College World Series after 14 years at Ole Miss. He’s the winningest coach in school history, but finally earned the one victory that will truly cement his legacy in Oxford.

“I didn’t think it would take this long,” he said. “I want these kids to enjoy this. A lot has been said about me, but this is their moment. That is one of the great things about being a coach is being able to share this moment with kids like this.”

Unlike in their previous super regional trips, the Rebels dropped Game 1 before bouncing back to win the next two. They conquered a Louisiana-Lafayette team that finished 58-10, was the consensus No. 1 in all of the major college baseball polls, and was playing on its home field in front of a raucous, overflow crowd.

Monday’s loss marked the first time Louisiana-Lafayette dropped back-to-back games this season.

“You have to give credit to (Ole Miss). There’s no better feeling than when you get that last out to get to Omaha, and on the other side of it there’s going to be a team that’s not going to feel real good,” ULL coach Tony Robichaux said. “I’m proud of our players, what they’ve accomplished this year, what they gave us this year as men. I just can’t be any more proud of our guys, the way they fought, all season long, what they’ve accomplished, but you have to give credit where credit is due.”

Bianco acknowledged that his team was fortunate to win against the Ragin’ Cajuns, who had 10 hits to nine for the Rebels. Ole Miss also committed four errors, but got several timely hits and a couple of big defensive plays that swung the outcome.

“When you look at the box score, they outhit us and we had four errors,” Bianco said. “You don’t usually win those games. It was one of those nights where we made the most of our opportunities.”

Scott Weathersby (3-1) pitched two scoreless innings for Ole Miss (46-19) and Josh Laxer picked up his sixth save, allowing only an unearned run in 3 1/3 innings.

“I’ve been prepared to come out there in a close game,” Laxer said. “Coach B just preaches about filling up the strike zone. That’s what I did.”

And that’s why the Rebels are going to the CWS for the first time since 1972. They play Virginia on Sunday night.

The turning point Monday came when ULL’s Seth Harrison doubled down the line with runners at first and second and two out in the seventh inning. Tyler Girouard scored from second, but Caleb Adams was thrown out at the plate, leaving Ole Miss up 5-4.

Ole Miss catcher Will Allen had been in a similar situation Sunday, when he dropped the ball and allowed the run to score. Allen said he had a little more time to make the play Monday.

“That was a huge momentum swing for us,” Allen said. “We pumped up about that because we preserved the lead and Josh Laxer was shutdown from then.”

Laxer said getting the last out was a dream come true.

“Every college baseball player’s dream is to get that last out to go to Omaha,” Laxer said. “It’s really hard to put into words right now, but it is awesome.”

Ole Miss took the lead for good in the fifth inning, when Braxton Lee scored on a passed ball to make it 4-3. Lee scored again in the sixth inning on Auston Bousfield’s double.

A throwing error on Perdzock’s two-run double in the ninth allowed another run to score and J.B. Woodman’s sacrifice fly scored Perdzock to complete the Rebels’ rally that put the game out of reach.

Austin Anderson and Sikes Orvis homered in the Rebels’ three-run fourth.

Ragin’ Cajuns starter Cody Boutte (9-1) went four innings, giving up four runs on five hits. ULL pitchers issued eight walks and hit three batters.

“Ole Miss is a good baseball team,” Robichaux said. “Sometimes you can overpitch good hitters, but you can’t have that many walks and hit batters when you face a good baseball team.”