Ole Miss depended on the guys on the mound all week, but on Championship Sunday, the Rebel bats came just short of outscoring the league’s best offense.
Six straight strikeouts from Austin Miller was not enough to keep the Rebels alive as Miller’s curveball couldn’t find the strike zone in the ninth. Three consecutive walks pulled him out of the game and Ryan Olenek allowed the walk-off hit for the 11-10 Commodore win.
Ole Miss’ improbable tournament run came to a bitter end after the Rebels lost an early eight-run lead to the deep Vanderbilt lineup.
The Rebels had the Commodore bullpen active early. After back-to-back walks from Patrick Raby, Cole Zabowski ripped one to left centerfield to give Ole Miss its first early lead of the week. Another run came in when a throwing error allowed Tyler Keenan to stride in from third.
Cooper Johnson and Anthony Servideo capitalized on Raby’s lack of control with an RBI single and a walk respectively. With the bases loaded, Raby walked Jacob Adams causing Vandy head coach Tim Corbin to come out of the dugout and end Patrick Raby’s disastrous opening frame.
The Rebels were not finished, however, as Thomas Dillard came up for his second at-bat in the inning. An RBI single plated Servideo and Johnson before Dillard was tagged at second to end a six-run inning for Ole Miss.
Tyler Keenan had to make and early for the second game in a row in the second inning due to an injured shoulder. Justin Bench came in to pinch hit. Carl Gindl moved in to right field and Servideo pushed over to center with Ryan Olenek
The Rebels built a 9-1 lead after the top of the third, but the Commodores found themselves down only 9-8 after the fourth as they started occupying the bases on Zack Phillips and Tyler Myers. The comeback was capped off by a three-run homer by Pat DeMarco. Jordan Fowler came in to end the five-run inning.
A perfect bunt from Servideo got Johnson home from second with a throwing error in the fifth. Rather than simply moving the runner over, the Rebels were able to score without sacrificing an out.
Will Ethridge came in for his first relief appearance with one out and a man on third in the fifth.
Harrison Ray used his third double of the game to tie the game. The hit appeared to be just foul on video but there was no review by the officials. A fielding error by second baseman Adams extend what should have been a quick inning.
One of the biggest moments of the game for Ole Miss came in the seventh when the Rebels had two on with no outs. Two phenomenal plays from Vanderbilt third basemen Austin Martin in foul territory put an end to a golden opportunity for Ole Miss.
Thomas Dillard and Parker Caracci were named to the all-tournament team.
Despite the loss, the Rebels certainly strengthened their case to host an NCAA Regional. They’ll know if they have another chance to play in Swayze tonight when Regional hosts are announced at 7:30. If they are not in the top-16, Ole Miss’s postseason fate will be revealed on the Selection Show Sunday at 11 a.m. on ESPNU.