NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- One night after rallying behind four runs in the ninth and coming back to win a 16-inning thriller, the Ole Miss baseball team maintained the momentum by taking down No. 1 Vanderbilt for the second-straight game, 5-4, to claim a big SEC series on the road. With a victory over the Commodores (28-9, 11-4 SEC), the defending national champions, the Rebels (18-18, 7-8 SEC) improve to an impressive 5-4 against No. 1 teams in 2015.
Sophomore Errol Robinson provided the game-winning hit, a 2-RBI bases-loaded single in the top of the seventh, and the Ole Miss bullpen kept the Commodores off the board for the second-consecutive contest. Senior Sam Smith came out of the bullpen to pitch two scoreless innings of relief, and junior Jacob Waguespack (1) closed out the ninth to earn his first career save. For the entire series, the Rebels' bullpen did not allow a run to score in 15.2 innings of work.
"Over the years, we have played really well against the No. 1 team, and we have come out on the right side of a lot of those games," said Ole Miss Head Coach Mike Bianco. "But I don't know if I have ever been more proud of a team to come on the road against the No. 1 team, after losing a midweek game, and face a team this talented; we just played great all weekend long."
Nine different Rebels recorded base hits throughout the afternoon as the team tallied 10 of them. Senior Austin Knight went 2-for-3 and added a walk to reach base three times. Holt Perdzock had a RBI double in his only plate appearance, and Cameron Dishon knocked in a run as well.
In his fourth career start, facing a No. 1 team for the second time in his career, freshman Will Stokes (1-3) put together a career outing. The right-hander went a career-long six innings, surrendering four runs on seven hits to earn the first victory of his young Ole Miss career.
"It felt pretty good," said Stokes on the team victory as well as his individual performance. "I felt pretty good with all of my pitches, and the defense played great behind me."
Ole Miss was able to force Vanderbilt starting pitcher Jordan Sheffield out of the game early as he lasted only two innings. The Rebels pegged Sheffield for three runs before getting two more off Tyler Ferguson (0-1) in the seventh inning. At the plate, the Commodores finished the game with eight hits.
Vanderbilt got a solo home run from Dansby Swanson to score the first run of the ballgame, but the lead did not last long as the Rebels answered with three runs in the top of the second. After Robinson drew a leadoff walk, Knight executed a hit and run to perfection with a base hit to center field. With runners on the corners, Perdzock doubled down the right field line to tie the contest at one run apiece. Dishon gave Ole Miss the lead by beating out an infield single that scored Knight, and Perzock would later score on a groundball double play to make it a two-run game.
The Commodores cut the Ole Miss lead in half, 3-2, by plating a run in the bottom half of the inning. One inning later, Vandervilt knotted the game at 3-3, and looked to take the lead with two runners in scoring position and only one out. However, Stokes struck out a hitter, and Sikes Orvis made a diving stop at first to prevent the home team from re-gaining the lead. After three innings, each team had three runs up on the board.
Stokes tossed a pair of scoreless innings before Vanderbilt re-claimed the lead on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth. Once again, Ole Miss responded to ensure that the Vandy lead was short-lived. The Rebels' got the leadoff hitter aboard for the fifth time in seven innings as Will Golsan walked. J.B. Woodman followed with an opposite-field singel, and a base on balls was issued to Orvis to load the bases with one out. The Commodores decided to go to the bullpen, but the move did not affect Robinson as the Ole Miss shortstop hit a chopper over the first baseman's head, scoring a pair of Rebels and flipping the game to a 5-4 advantage in favor of Ole Miss.
Smith made sure the Rebels maintained the lead into the eighth inning with a pair of strikeouts. After surrendering a one-out walk, the senior got a strikeout while Knight caught a potential base-stealer for a double play to end the inning and keep Ole Miss ahead by one run.
Entering the contest in the ninth, Waguespack retired three of the four batters he faced. The junior recorded a strikeout and forced a pair of groundouts, locking up the game and the series for the Rebels.
"It's just a good team effort by everybody," added Stokes. "It's huge to get the win on the road against one of the best teams in the country."
To break up a pair of SEC weekend series on the road, the Rebels return home to host Tennessee-Martin for a midweek matchup, April 15. The game will end a stretch of nine games in which eight of them were against a team from the state of Tennessee. First pitch versus the Skyhawks is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. CT from Swayze Field. The non-conference contest will be broadcast on SEC Network+ as well as the Ole Miss Radio Network.