Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco watched his team grow up on Sunday. Ole Miss came back from an early 2-0 deficit to beat second-ranked Louisville 4-2, taking the series two games to one.
“I think we needed a game like this. Not just to win, but to play in a really close game against a good team and win the game.” Bianco said. “Not feel like they gave it to you, but to win the game.”
They were pushed down to start when the first batter of the game, Corey Ray, hit a home run to left field on a 0-2 pitch that was left up in the zone, giving the Cardinals a 1-0 lead. Louisville would get two runs in the opening frame off of Rebel starter Sean Johnson.
“After I gave up the home run I new I had to bear down, and find myself,” Johnson said. “I knew I needed to put up some zeros in order for us to come back and score a few runs.”
Thats exactly what Johnson did, pitching four scoreless frames, and allowing the Ole Miss offense to help them get back up.
After struggling for much of the weekend offensively, Ole Miss found a spark in the bottom of the third. Freshman designated hitter Ryan Olenek led off with a base hit. Connor Cloyd followed with another, and Cam Dishon broke the scoring open with a base hit that got through the right side to plate Olenek, making it a 2-1 game.
“For the first time all weekend, we got the crowd into it a little bit,” Bianco said. “We started looking a little more like ourselves offensively. They say hitting’s contagious, and it’s true.”
Errol Robinson tied the game with a base hit, and Will Golsan gave the Rebels its first lead since Friday night on a sacrifice fly that capped off the three run inning.
“My team is extraordinary,” Johnson said. “We always have each other’s backs. When it comes down to it, when someone gets in trouble, the next guy steps up and makes the plays.”
David Parkinson replaced Johnson with one out in the sixth inning,and pitched 1.2 innings of scoreless relief.
“I was just thinking about throwing strikes because I know my defense has me no matter what,” Parkinson said.
Ole Miss got an insurance run in the bottom half of the sixth inning when Golsan lifted one well over the left field fence for his first career home run, making it a 4-2 game.
“It felt great,” Golsan said. “Just to get back in there, I’ve been hitting a few balls hard, and finally just to get one over their heads was a relief.”
After Will Stokes retired a batter in the eighth inning, Bianco brought in Wyatt Short who recorded his second five-out save of the weekend. Short forced a ground ball in the 9th started a six-four-three double play to end the game.
“Errol stuck his face down in there and took it off the chin, and hung with it, and got the ball to Tate, and a great turn to finish off the game,” Bianco said.
It was Ole Miss’ sixth win of the year as it improved to 6-1 and was a big step forward for this team early in the season.
“We got challenged in a lot of different areas this weekend,” Bianco said. “That’s a very good team we just played and it was nice to play well here and finish off the weekend.”