In a season marred by early and ongoing injuries, Ole Miss baseball endured to get its first SEC series win of 2023 with a walk-off win over Georgia in Sunday’s finale at Swayze Field.
The Rebels (23-21, 6-15 SEC) have not had the type of season it expected as defending national champions, and there have been multiple opportunities wasted to win SEC series this year botched by late inning rallies or bad breaks in crucial games.
Sunday seemed like a possibility to be another verse in pain for the Ole Miss faithful. The Bulldogs (24-20, 8-13 SEC) scored three runs in the eighth to tie the game at 5-5 and two more runs in the ninth to again tie the game, this time at seven apiece.
TJ McCants drove home pinch runner Judd Utermark in the bottom of the ninth, however, to secure a 8-7 victory in thrilling fashion. Jack Dougherty (3-3) was credited with the win though freshman Grayson Saunier (6 IP, 6 K, 1 ER) was phenomenal to start the game.
Now the Rebels have 12 games remaining on its schedule and are in a tie with Missouri for last in the SEC. Ole Miss travels to Missouri this weekend after a midweek game with Arkansas-Little Rock, so needless to say, it’s a big road series to try and continue the climb out of the basement.
Ole Miss needed a series win badly just to revive hopes of making it to the SEC baseball tournament in Hoover this month. A sweep of Missouri would really improve its chances as the Rebels now hold a tiebreaker with Georgia who is three games up currently in the standings and are only one game behind in-state rival Mississippi State.
The two final SEC series for Ole Miss are against Auburn and Alabama who have a four game edge over the Rebels at 9-12. I’m not sure it’s time to start whispering “don’t let the Rebs get hot”, but the team has given itself a sliver of a realistic chance to play its way back to the conference postseason.