OXFORD, Miss. – For the first time in his baseball career, Houston Roth came on in the ninth inning to close out a game. The sophomore from Oxford, Mississippi, got it done, striking out the final Tennessee Tech batter with the tying run on third base as No. 1 seed Ole Miss improved to 2-0 in the postseason and advanced to the championship round of the NCAA Oxford Regional with a 9-8 win.
The Rebels had their hands full with the No. 2 seed Golden Eagles, who showed why they’re the best offense in the country, scoring eight runs on 12 hits. However, it wasn’t quite enough as Ole Miss captured the critical victory behind a tremendous night from Will Golsan. Golsan went 3-for-5 with three RBI and scored the game-deciding run.
Ole Miss was the visitor by virtue of a coin toss and stepped to the plate first. Golsan singled through the left side in the first inning to tally one of his three RBI on the day and give Ole Miss an early 2-0 lead. Starter Brady Feigl was cooking early, striking out four of the first six batters he faced, but the dangerous TTU bats caught up to him. Nick Osborne and Brandon Kaleiwahea hit back-to-back home runs to tie the game in the third.
Ole Miss swung back in the fifth after a leadoff single by Ryan Olenek followed by a double from Nick Fortes. Thomas Dillard put the lead back in the Rebels’ hands on a sacrifice fly, and Golsan made it a two-run advantage when he smacked an infield single off of the TTU pitcher Marcus Evey to plate Fortes.
The lead didn’t last long, though. Feigl struck out the first two batters in the fifth, but the Golden Eagles responded with five straight base hits to plate two runs and chase him from the game. Will Ethridge stepped in and induced a groundout to escape the bases-loaded jam and keep the score tied at five.
Jacob Adams walked to open the sixth inning and later stole third on a heads-up play, swiping the bag before the Golden Eagle pitcher even delivered his pitch. Olenek made TTU pay, sending Adams home on a sacrifice fly. However, once again, TTU answered right back as Osborne homered for a second time to knot the game at six.
The Golden Eagles threatened in a nerve-wracking seventh as the first two batters reached, bringing Parker Caracci out of the bullpen. The Rebel closer retired three TTU hitters around one walk to escape the jam unscathed.
In the eighth, pinch hitter Tim Rowe reached base on a dropped third strike that skipped all the way to the backstop. Anthony Servideo came in to pinch run, and his speed quickly came in handy. Grae Kessinger roped a double into the left field corner, and Servideo came all the way around from first to score the go-ahead run. Caracci then mowed down the Golden Eagles in order to set the stage for a wild final frame.
Consecutive walks by Dillard and Cole Zabowski started the rally, and Golsan carried it on, plating Dillard on a single to center. After Tyler Keenan was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Servideo drew a crucial full-count walk. On the play, Zabowski scored and Golsan hustled all the way around from second to score what proved to be the game-winning run.
Caracci opened the ninth with a strikeout, but the Rebels weren’t getting off easy. After two walks and a hit batter, Caracci checked out with the bases loaded. Greer Holston entered and induced a pop-up for out number two, but he followed it with a walk, and a two-run single up the middle, which brought the tying run to third base and the winning run to third. Head coach Mike Bianco then turned to Roth, who won a tremendous battled striking out Alex Junior on a full count to seal the win and send Ole Miss to the championship round, where they’ll have two chances to win one game to advance to the Super Regionals.
Ole Miss awaits the winner of tonight’s elimination game between Tennessee Tech and Missouri State. First pitch is set for noon CT. If the Rebels fall in the first game tomorrow, the regional champion will be decided at 6 p.m. CT.
(Article written by Ole Miss Athletics)