LAFAYETTE, La. - The Rebels have preached toughness and resiliency all season and those traits were on display Monday night as No. 6 Ole Miss (46-19) fought off Cajun rallies before breaking things open in the ninth inning to defeat No. 1 Louisiana-Lafayette (58-10) by a score of 10-4 to secure a berth in the College World Series.
The Rebels will face Virginia on Sunday night at 7 p.m. in the final game of the day at TD Ameritrade Park. It marks the fifth College World Series appearance for the Rebels and first since the 1972 season.
Scott Weathersby (3-1) picked up the win, working 2.0 innings in relief of starter Sam Smith, allowing two hits with a walk and two strikeouts has he helped hold the Ragin' Cajuns in check as Ole Miss built on its lead. Josh Laxer then picked up his sixth save of the season, working the final 3.1 innings with one unearned run on two hits with a walk and three strikeouts.
Cody Boutte (9-1) took the loss as he allowed four runs on five hits with a walk and two strikeouts in 4.0 innings of work in the start.
"The road to the College World Series is one that's bumpy and winding," said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. "I didn't expect it to take this long to get there, but you have to have a special group to do that and this is certainly a special group. We talked about it in the fall and then in the preseason. I'm really proud of this team.
"I hope we get to do this again soon at home on our own field, but this team could have won anywhere tonight," Bianco said. "This group played terrific at home last weekend and has been terrific on the road all year. We continued to play well tonight and we made some special plays when we needed to tonight. They have done that and played so well since week one of the season."
Louisiana-Lafayette got on the board in the third, using a leadoff double on a ball that dropped into shallow center to start the rally. A sac bunt moved the runner to third before a fielding error on a ball back to the mound set men at the corners for the Ragin' Cajuns. A sac fly to left scored the run and put the home team on top 1-0 after the third.
The lead was short-lived with Austin Anderson answering with a two-run shot over the wall in right center in the fourth that scored Bousfield on the play. Bousfield opened the inning with a double to the wall in left center to get on base for the Anderson round-tripper.
Sikes Orvis then got in on the action two batters later, hitting a solo shot over the wall in right to make it a 3-1 lead for the Rebels after the top of the fourth.
The Ragin' Cajuns answered in the bottom of the frame, getting runners on with a hit batter and a double down the left field line with one out. A groundout to third brought a run home to cut the lead to 3-2 and advance the trail runner to third. A double to left center from Ryan Leonards brought the second run home and tied the game at three as the Rebels turned to the bullpen for right-hander Scott Weathersby.
The junior reliever got a pop out to short to end the inning and keep the game in check.
Braxton Lee was hit by a pitch to open the fifth inning and Louisiana-Lafayette turned to its bullpen for right-hander Matt Hicks in relief of Boutte. A chess match ensued throughout as Hicks got a foul out, but a wild pitch moved Lee to second and a wild pitch on a walk of Anderson put men at the corners. A fly out put two away and the Ragin' Cajuns again turned to the bullpen for left-hander Chris Griffit.
Griffit hit Orvis with his first pitch of the inning to load the bases and Louisiana-Lafayette called on right-hander Matt Plitt to face Colby Bortles. A passed ball to Bortles allowed Lee to score as the Rebels moved back in front 4-3 before the Ragin' Cajuns would get out of the inning.
Ole Miss added to the lead with a two-out rally in the sixth on an RBI double down the left field line from Bousfield. Lee drew a two-out walk to reach base and then scored from first on the hit as Bousfield laced it down the line past a diving third baseman to give the Rebels the two-run lead.
A two-out error in the bottom of the sixth opened the door for the Cajuns and a walk put a second man on as the Rebels looked to get out of the frame. Ole Miss turned to the bullpen following the walk, calling on right-hander Josh Laxer.
Laxer got a fly ball to the warning track to end the inning and keep the Rebels on top 5-3.
A pair of errors, one fielding and one throwing, on a ground ball back to the mound put a man on for the Cajuns in the seventh as Louisiana-Lafayette looked to put together another rally with one out. A walk of the next batter put two men on before Laxer would get a fly out to right center to put two away.
Seth Harrison then drove a ball down the third base line, scoring the lead runner to cut the lead to one. The Cajuns sent the trailing runner on the play, but the relay was on line as Lee threw the ball in to Errol Robinson who zipped a laser to the plate and Allen tagged out the runner to end the inning with Ole Miss holding a slim 5-4 lead.
Following a four-pitch walk to start the eighth, Louisiana-Lafayette again made a pitching change by calling the centerfielder, Harrison, to pitch. Four consecutive balls put Overbey on base before a fielder's choice from Errol Robinson moved Woodman to third and left men at the corners.
Lee then drove a fly ball to left field, allowing Woodman to score from third on the sac fly as Ole Miss moved out to a 6-4 lead.
The Rebels added insurance runs in the ninth with a big at bat from pinch hitter Holt Perdzock. With the bases loaded and no outs, Perdzock drove a full count pitch into the corner in right field for a double, driving in two runs while a fielding error allowed a third run to score and Perdzock to sprint to third.
Down 9-4, ULL made another pitching change and J.B. Woodman drove a sac fly to left field to bring Perdzock home and take the lead out to six runs before another pitching change for the Cajuns. Ole Miss would manage no more runs in the inning, however, heading to the bottom of the ninth up 10-4.
Laxer would then retire the side in order in the ninth to secure the victory and a berth in the College World Series.
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