With Ole Miss trailing Auburn 5-0 with just five outs to work with, it was looking like a pretty bum Sunday. Sure, the Rebs had already won on Friday and Saturday, but with the Tigers being as bad as they are (they came into the weekend 18-19 overall) and Ole Miss buried deep in the SEC West standings, anything other than a sweep was gonna feel like a letdown.
Instead, the Rebs rallied back, blasting a pair of homers to tie the game before Henri Lartigue put it away with a walkoff single in the ninth to finish off one hell of a Double Decker weekend.
Here's how the rally happened.
1. Colby Bortles leaves the yard.
With one out and a man on first in the eighth inning, Bortles broke out his big boy bat.
Bortles has struggled to fill the power role vacated by Sikes Orvis last year, but his five dingers tie him with J.B. Woodman for tops on the team and he leads the club outright in RBI.
2. Ryan Olenek blasts a three-run dinger in the ninth.
On Friday night, Olenek got robbed of a homer by this Sportscenter top play (it got No. 3) from Auburn's Jackson Burgreen.
ROBBED!— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) April 23, 2016
This catch by @Auburn_Baseball's Jackson Burgreen has #SCtop10 written all over it https://t.co/mmQsoVpWlC pic.twitter.com/YnwUo2YC3i
So with two men on in the ninth and Ole Miss trailing 5-2, Olenek hit this one where no one could catch it.
(You're gonna want to switch on the volume to hear David Kellum in all of his incredulous glory.)
3. Red-hot Henri Lartigue finished it off.
Following Olenek's dinger, Tate Blackman reached on an error (Auburn's sixth of the game and 12th of the weekend), Woodman struck out and Bortles singled to left. That put Lartigue at the plate with one out and men on first and second. With a full count, this happened:
Lartigue, who went four-for-five on the day, has been incendiary of late and now sports a batting average of .362.
With LSU and Bama each losing their weekend series, the Rebs climb into a three-way tie for second place in the SEC West (full standings are down below) with a huge series against LSU coming this weekend.
Friday: Ole Miss 6, Auburn 4 (box score)
Saturday: Ole Miss 7, Auburn 4 (box score)
Sunday: Ole Miss 6, Auburn 5 (box score)
3 big takeaways
1. Expect a new Sunday starter next week.
So the reason Ole Miss had to rally back to begin with is because Sean Johnson had a disastrous start. He gave up four earned runs before getting yanked after just an inning and a third, marking the third time in his last four starts that he's gone three innings or less.
This chart shows the steady decline of his innings per start.
I said the same thing last week, but we probably won't see Johnson starting on the weekend again any time soon.
Instead, Mike Bianco will likely turn to freshman James McArthur, who stepped in for Johnson in the second inning on Sunday. McArthur, a 6'7 righty who's been racking up wins as the midweek starter, stabilized the game with 4.2 innings of two-hit, shutout ball. There was some thought that Bianco would try to give McArthur one more midweek start on Tuesday in the Governor's Cup against State (Bianco has already said Chad Smith will make that start), but Sunday's outing almost certainly means he's making a permanent change to the weekend rotation. Expect McArthur on the bump against LSU next week.
2. Brady Bramlett's still really good.
Here's the weekly Bramlett-was-quietly-fantastic-but-got-lost-in-the-rest-of-the-drama segment. He was dominant through his first five innings on Friday, racking up six strikeouts while keeping Auburn off the scoreboard. With his pitch count climbing, he finally got tagged for a two-run dinger by Niko Buentello (who's tied for the SEC lead in homers), but settled down to finish the inning. Bramlett's 2.28 ERA is the seventh best in the conference and opponents are hitting just .214 off him.
3. Wyatt Short cut off his hair :(
Short had one of his worst outings as a Rebel on Friday night, when he got yanked in the ninth inning after loading the bases with no outs in a 6-3 ball game. Will Stokes took over for him and promptly walked in a run, but recovered to notch two clutch strikeouts and a game-ending popup for his fifth save of the season (he got No. 6 on Saturday).
So Short did what anyone does when they're trying to shake things up. He got a haircut.
.@ItsYaBoiWyatt with the new do!@OleMissBSB pic.twitter.com/bb8OGoKLD2— OleMissPix (@OleMissPix) April 24, 2016
Short will be fine, haircut or not. With Stokes coming on the way he is (2.78 ERA with 24 strikeouts and just four walks this season), Bianco has two reliable stoppers to choose from, a luxury that's going to be a huge advantage come tournament play. Stokes also frees up Short to pitch long relief or become a fourth starter.
Around the SEC
- No. 2 Florida took two of three from Georgia
- No. 3 A&M took two of three from Bama
- Tennessee took two of three from No. 5 Vandy
- No. 5 State took two of three from No. 9 LSU
- No. 12 South Carolina swept Mizzou
- Arkansas took two of three from No. 20 Kentucky
Tuesday: vs. No. 5 Mississippi State in Pearl
Thursday-Saturday: vs. No. 9 LSU in Oxford