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Baseball: Rebels foil Cajun party – late Ole Miss rally forces pressure-packed game 3 for CWS berth

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, June 9, 2014
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UL shortstop Blake Trahan (4) turns a double play Ole Miss runner Errol Robinson (6) slides into second base in the second game of the 2014 NCAA Super Regional baseball tournament Sunday, June 8, 2014, at M.L. "Tigue" Moore Field in Lafayette, La.(Photo: Leslie Westbrook, The Advertiser)
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Game 3 at 6:00 p.m., Monday, Tigue Moore Field

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With little margin for error as starting pitchers Carson Baranik and Christian Trent went at it for 7.0 innings each, the Ragin’ Cajuns made one.

It proved quite costly, too.

Ole Miss took advantage of a dropped fly ball in a three-run eighth inning to break open a tied game en route to a 5-2 NCAA Tournament Lafayette Super Regional win over No. 1-ranked UL on Sunday night.

With the tourney’s sixth-seeded Cajuns (58-9) having won Game 1 9-5 Saturday night, that forces a decisive Game 3 in the best-of-three series at 6 p.m. tonight.

Tied 2-2 going into the bottom of the eighth in front of an over-capacity 4,294 at M.L. "Tigue" Moore Field, righty Baranik (11-2) gave up a leadoff single to Auston Bousfield – just the sixth hit of the game he had allowed – before being relieved by lefty Ryan Wilson.

Wilson walked the first man he faced, Austin Anderson, and Will Allen followed with a fly ball to centerfielder Seth Harrison.

Harrison headed to his left for the catch but dropped the ball, allowing Bousfield to score from second and make it 3-2 for Ole Miss against a Cajun club that went into the game with a stellar .979 team fielding percentage.

"I missed it," said Harrison, who added that the outfield at The Tigue is playing "the same" as usual despite extra lighting brought in for ESPN2 TV coverage.

Click here for post-game video.

A dropped fly ball in centerfield cost Ole Miss on Saturday as well.

"No excuse," sad Harrison, a seventh-round San Francisco Giants draft pick last Friday. "That’s it."

Pinch-hitter Clint Bortles was next up for Ole Miss (45-19), and he delivered a two-RBI single up the middle to make it 5-2 before Aaron Greenwood (3-1) closed it for the Rebels.

UL’s Caleb Adams led off the ninth with a double, and moved to third on Chase Compton’s groundout. But Greenwood fielded Harrison’s groundout for the inning’s second out, and he got Dylan Butler to strike out looking to end things.

"I thought both pitchers threw a really good ballgame," UL coach Tony Robichaux said of Trent, who allowed just one run off four hits in his seven innings, and Baranik. "I mean it was back-and-forth throughout the whole game."

Trent and Baranik were both drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday, Trent in the 29th round and Baranik in the 33rd.

"Their guy (Trent) set a good tempo," Robichaux said. "Our guy, Carson (Baranik) set a great tempo.

"And nobody could really get the big hit at the right time – then, all of a sudden, we gave them a little crack and they crawled through it, so you’ve got to give them credit.

"Now," added Robichaux, who plans to throw his usual No. 3 starter, 9-0 Cody Boutte tonight, "what we’ve got to do is try to flush this and get back out and ready to go (tonight)."

Baranik paid for an early two-out walk, as Anderson reached on balls in the bottom of the first and scored on Allen’s double down the right-field line.

He also got into a two-on jam in the second, but got out of that inning with a 4-6-3 double play.

UL got bit by a double play in the top of the fourth, and went into the bottom of the inning still trailing the Rebels 1-0.

But the Cajuns bit right back to get out of the fourth on a strikeout and a 6-4-3 double play that was completed despite second baseman Jace Conrad getting taken out at the bag.

UL tied it in the top of the fifth, when Harrison reached on a two-out error and scored from first as Butler doubled down the line in left.

Harrison looked like he was going to be out at the plate, but Allen dropped the ball when Harrison slid into him.

It stayed that way until the bottom of the seventh, when Preston Overbey delivered a two-out solo home run to left off of Baranik to put the Rebels up 2-1.

"It was just a hanging breaking ball," said Baranik, who added he didn’t feel "really great" early on in the outing.

"Right before the pitch … for some reason my head told me he’s not gonna to swing. My head lost that battle right there. I should have thrown a better pitch, but he (Overbey) put a good swing on it and made me pay."

UL tied it again in the top of the eighth, when Michael Strentz drew a leadoff walk, moved to second on Ryan Leonards’ sacrifice bunt and scored on Blake Trahan’s two-out single through the right side.

Strentz slid head-first to beat a throw to the plate, making it 2-2 before Ole Miss went back ahead to stay in the bottom of the inning.

"Especially after a tough night (Saturday) night where I think we’re all disappointed by the way we played," Rebels coach Mike Bianco said, "to come back and play well today – I think we needed to play well against a good Louisiana-Lafayette team."