OXFORD, Miss. - In the bottom of the 10th, a pinch-hit single by redshirt-sophomore Michael Fitzsimmons lifted the No. 22 Ole Miss baseball team over Little Rock Tuesday afternoon at Swayze Field. The Rebels (16-9) won the extra-inning battle with the Trojans (9-16) in front of over 6,000 elementary school students in attendance for the fifth annual School Day Game.
Houston Roth (1-0) struck out the side in the 10th, and the perfect inning earned the freshman the first victory of his career. Fellow freshman and Ole Miss starting pitcher Greer Holston did not allow a run over 5.1 innings, giving up just three hits and two walks. Will Stokes and Dallas Woolfolk also pitched out of the bullpen, combining to keep Little Rock off the scoreboard for 2.1 innings.
Colby Bortles and Cole Zabowski tallied two hits apiece as Ole Miss finished with nine for the game. Fitzsimmons and Chase Cockrell provided singles off the bench, two of seven Rebels to record a hit throughout the extra-inning affair.
The Trojans scored all four of their runs in the seventh inning due to a two-RBI single by Cale Ridling and a two-run homer by Zach Baker. Little Rock used 10 pitchers in the 10-inning contest, and McKinley Moore (0-1) suffered the loss.
Holston tossed a pair of scoreless frames before the Rebels put up the game's first run in the bottom of the second. Tim Rowe singled up the middle for the first hit of the matchup, and he continued to advance 90 feet one play at a time. A wild pitch allowed the designated hitter to move into scoring position, while a groundball to the right side brought him to third. With two outs, Zabowski found a hole for a base hit to plate Rowe and give Ole Miss the early lead.
The Rebels used small ball in the fifth to double their advantage. An infield single to third by Nick Fortes kicked off the inning. Kyle Watson's sacrifice bunt was enough to put Fortes into scoring position before another groundout to second moved the Rebel 90 feet from home. With a good piece of two-out hitting, Tate Blackman singled up the middle to score his teammate and make it a 2-0 game.
Little Rock flipped the script in the seventh, turning a two-run deficit into a two-run lead. Following a double and a walk, Sean Johnson entered the game to relieve Connor Green. A wild pitch allowed both Trojans to move closer home, and the pinch hitter, Ridling, brought them across with a single into left field to square the contest at two runs apiece. The tie didn't last long as Baker sent a two-run home run into the Ole Miss bullpen. The four-run frame put Little Rock in front, 4-2.
In the bottom of the eighth, Ole Miss was patient at the plate to score two runs and tie the game. Cockrell delivered a pinch-hit single, and after Will Golsan walked, Grae Kessinger placed a perfect sacrifice bunt to move the tying run into scoring position. Three straight walks followed, including two with the bases loaded, bringing the game to a 4-4 standstill.
For the second consecutive inning, the Rebels put two runners in scoring position. However, with the winning run at third and one out in the bottom of the ninth, Little Rock got out of the jam to force extra innings.
Roth pitched a perfect 10th, striking out the side to hand the game over to the Ole Miss offense. Watson drew a one-out walk and raced for second on a hit-and-run to eliminate the chance of a double play. The Trojans proceeded to walk Blackman to set up multiple force outs and deal with Fitzsimmons. The redshirt sophomore made them pay, ripping a ball into left field to easily score Watson. With the Ole Miss speedster crossing the plate, the Rebels sprinted out of the dugout and onto the field to celebrate the walk-off win with the hero Fitzsimmons.
Up next, the Rebels kick off another SEC weekend early with a nationally televised matchup with Mississippi State Thursday night (March 30). The rivalry begins at 7 p.m. CT on ESPNU before jumping over to SEC Network for game two of the series (6 p.m., March 31). Concluding the series, the Rebels and Bulldogs will meet for a Saturday afternoon contest starting at 1:30 p.m. (April 1).