Diamond Rebels edged out Tigers 7-6
Ole Miss center fielder J.B. Woodman has one of the strongest arms in college baseball, and he put it on full display Thursday night. The junior gunned down not one, but two LSU runners at the plate to keep LSU from scoring, and it proved invaluable as the Rebels held on for a 7-6 win.
The first one came in the fourth inning with the game tied at four. Woodman fielded a Jake Fraley single and released a ball on a string that beat Cole Freeman to the plate for the second out of the inning.
“I knew on the first one the guy got a bad jump,” Woodman said. “It was a line drive so he kind of went back, so if I put a good throw on it I thought I had a shot. I think that they’re pretty fast as a team. I think that’s what they do is send guys like that, and you’ve just got to put a good throw on it when you can.”
The second one came in an even more crucial spot. With the Rebels leading 7-6 in the eighth inning, Antoine Duplantis laced a two-out single to center that sent Brennan Breaux rounding third base and it appeared as if the game was about to be tied for the fourth time on the night.
Woodman had other plans as he zipped another one slightly left of home plate that gave catcher Henri Lartigue plenty of time to apply the tag on Breaux to end the inning. He sprinted toward the dugout as the 8,000 fans at Oxford-University Stadium erupted.
“I came and got it real hard and put a good throw on it, and Henri (Lartigue) made a good tag,” Woodman said. “Those were big plays for sure.”
“I went up to him after the second one and said ‘man, that’s amazing,’” Ole Miss Head Coach Mike Bianco said smiling. “He says ‘I think that’s the record,’ He’s got a knack for it.”
It was anything but your typical Friday night turned Thursday SEC game. Games in which runs are usually hard to come by, had 13 combined runs on 21 combined hits and five errors between the two teams.
“It was one of those ugly-great college baseball games where there are mistakes being made, and neither ace looked like they had their best stuff,” Bianco said. “Some great hitting and some great defensive plays made for a great game to watch and be a part of.”
The teams exchanged blows in the first by each hanging two runs first on Brady Bramlett, and then on LSU’s Jared Poche. This became a theme. Each time LSU scored, Ole Miss matched them in the bottom half of the inning. It happened three different times.
“I thought that was the whole game,” Bianco said. “Three times they scored in the first, the third and the sixth and we were able to answer back every time. That’s, really, I think the difference in the game. A lot of things will get lost, but I thought how relentless we were in times that it didn’t look so good, we were able to put innings together.”
Junior pitcher Brady Bramlett had his shortest outing of the season, going 3.1 innings allowing four runs on seven hits. Bramlett was pitching on short rest with the accelerated Thursday night start.
“He just looked like stuff-wise, his fastball lacked a few miles per hour, and his stuff wasn’t there,” Bianco said. “He really struggled with his stuff.”
After the first two times Ole Miss matched LSU’s two runs with two of their own in the first and third, Ole Miss did them one better in the sixth. LSU scored one to take a 5-4 lead in the top half of the inning, before Ole Miss responded with three in the bottom half on an Errol Robinson triple and an error from LSU pitcher Parker Bugg. Bugg airmailed a short throw home on a ball hit back to him from Ryan Olenek that allowed Robinson to score and give Ole Miss a 6-5 lead. Olenek later scored on a sacrifice fly from Tate Blackman, giving Ole Miss its seventh and final run that it would end up needing.
LSU trimmed the lead to 7-6 in the seventh after plating a run off of Will Stokes. Wyatt Short relieved Stokes in the eighth and recorded six-out save, good for his seventh save of the year, and also gave Ole Miss a win against a top 10 team.
“It was definitely big,” Woodman said of the win. “I think sometimes we struggle swinging the bats consistently, and I think it’s good to have another good start to the weekend and get the bats going.”