The Ole Miss baseball team came away with a 4-3 win on Tuesday in a thriller at home against Southern Miss, using a two-run homer from freshman Hayden Leatherwood in the bottom of the seventh for the win.
Ole Miss took the lead early but struggled to preserve a lead as Southern Miss knocked on the door in nearly every middle innings.
The Golden Eagles had a breakthrough in the fifth inning, thanks to a pair of errors by the home side that allowed a run to come in unearned.
Freshman Jackson Kimbrell came into the game for the Rebels and allowed his first base runner because of a poor throw by Chatagnier, which first baseman Cael Baker was unable to scoop out of the dirt.
After a deep flyout to center, Kimbrell allowed a single to right field, putting runners on first and second with two outs in the inning. He conceded another single through the left side of the infield, and the runner scored from second after a poor throw home from left fielder Justin Bench.
Kimbrell allowed the first two batters to reach base in the sixth and was hooked in favor of senior Austin Miller.
Miller struck out the first two batters before allowing a walk to load the bases with two down. A second straight walk plated the tying run before Miller got a key strike out with the bases still loaded.
Southern Miss took its first lead of the game in the seventh on a leadoff homer but quickly saw its lead disappear in the bottom of the inning.
With a runner on first and one out in the bottom of the seventh, outfielder Hayden Leatherwood came to the plate to pinch hit for Tim Elko.
Leatherwood ripped the first pitch over the right field wall to give the Rebels the lead late in the game.
“First pitch fastball (and) right down the middle,” Leatherwood said about the pitch. “I was sitting on it.”
Leatherwood, a native of Collierville, Tennessee, attended Northwest Community College for the first two years of his collegiate career before transferring to Ole Miss.
“It’s indescribable,” he said. “As a child I dreamed of playing here, (and) now I’m hitting a couple home runs and actually making an impact on this team. It’s indescribable.”
Sophomore Braden Forsyth came in in the top of the ninth to get the save but not before the Golden Eagles gave one last scare.
With runners on the corners and one out, Forsyth came up with two huge strikeouts to end the game and record his second save of the season.
Forsyth was the sixth pitcher of the night for the Rebels, none of whom lasted more than two innings.
“[Wes Burton] didn’t look real sharp tonight from the get-go. I just felt with so many rested guys in the bullpen that we were ready to go, and we needed guys to pitch,” head coach Mike Bianco said after the game. “We wanted to get guys in there.”
The Rebels are now 7-1 on the season after being ranked in the top 15 in four of the six major polls this week.
Ole Miss travels to Greenville, North Carolina, this weekend for the Keith LeClair Classic where they will face High Point, East Carolina and Indiana before returning home to face Memphis at home next Tuesday.