OXFORD, Miss. - Tate Blackman belted a walk-off home run with one out in the bottom of the ninth to propel the Ole Miss baseball team to a 5-4 win over Alabama on a picture-perfect Saturday afternoon at Swayze Field. The Rebels (19-12, 5-6 SEC) rallied from a three-run deficit to score the game's final four runs and clinch the weekend series against the Crimson Tide (13-18, 2-9 SEC).
Nick Fortes recorded a team-high three hits, tying a career best to lead the Ole Miss bats. Tim Rowe scored a pair of runs, and Will Golsan provided another multi-hit game. On the mound, the Rebel bullpen remained effective. Will Stokes pitched 1.1 scoreless frames and got Ole Miss out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh, while Dallas Woolfolk (3-1) retired all five batters he faced to earn his second victory of the week.
First baseman Cody Henry and left fielder Chandler Taylor recorded two hits apiece for Alabama. Taylor and third baseman Connor Short hit solo home runs as the Crimson Tide recorded double digits in hits. However, Ole Miss pitching limited opposing hitters to going 2-for-16 with runners on base, including 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Garrett Suchey (1-4) kept the Rebels off the board for 3.1 innings of relief until Blackman's walk-off blast in the ninth.
Alabama struck first with Taylor's solo homer in the top of the second. With two outs, Taylor sent a high fly down the right field line. A little help from the wind brought it back into fair territory, and the baseball landed in the Alabama bullpen. Ole Miss loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom half of the frame, but the three Rebels were stranded as the visitors held on to their one-run lead.
In the third, the Crimson Tide took advantage of two Ole Miss errors to double their advantage. However, David Parkinson kept the damage to a minimum. With the bases loaded due to the pair of miscues, only one run crossed the plate thanks to a diving catch in center field by Ryan Olenek that brought the inning to an close.
Each team plated a run in the fourth. Short homered to left field, but the Rebels got the run back. Rowe drew a one-out walk before Fortes smacked his second hit of the game on a single through the left side. A passed ball moved both runners up 90 feet, and Thomas Dillard did his job by hitting the ball to the right side of the infield. The groundout to second base was enough to score Rowe, giving Ole Miss its first run of the game, 3-1.
Despite Alabama adding to its lead in the top of the sixth, Ole Miss countered with three runs to tie the game. Olenek was hit by a pitch before Rowe doubled off the left field wall to put two Rebels in scoring position. Golsan delivered a base knock to center to bring Olenek home before back-to-back sacrifice flies by Cole Zabowski and Grae Kessinger squared the contest at 4-4.
The Crimson Tide looked to break the tie in their next at-bats, getting first two runners on base to end Brady Feigl's relief outing. Stokes entered the game, and a sacrifice bunt moved both runners closer to home. With one out, head coach Mike Bianco elected to call for an intentional walk to set up a force at any base. However, Stokes didn't allow a ball to be put in play, striking out consecutive hitters to end the inning and keep Alabama from taking the lead. Both strikeouts brought the crowd of 10,247 to its feet as the junior worked out of the jam.
Following a one-out double in the eighth, Woolfolk relieved Stokes and recorded back-to-back outs to end the threat. The sophomore pitched a scoreless ninth to keep the game tied, turning the game over to the Ole Miss offense. With one out and facing a 1-1 count, Blackman belted a moon shot to left field that cleared the fence for a walk-off homer, and the Rebels rushed to home plate to wait for one of their team captains to cross the dish to make the win official.
The Rebels will try to earn their fourth weekend sweep of the season by taking the series finale tomorrow (April 9). Freshman Ryan Rolison will make his second career SEC start for Ole Miss. First pitch is slated for 3 p.m. from Swayze Field as Mike Morgan and Ben McDonald have the call on SEC Network.
- Tate Blackman hit a walk-off home run with one out in the bottom of the ninth to give Ole Miss the victory.
- The Rebels now have three walk-off wins this season, including two in the last three games; three of Ole Miss's last four wins have come in walk-off fashion.
- Blackman became the first Rebel to hit a walk-off homer since Henri Lartigue did it last season versus Kentucky (May 14, 2016).
- Nick Fortes tied his career high with three hits, his second three-hit game over the last three contests.
- Fortes is hitting .529 (9-for-17) in his six SEC games.
- Today's attendance was 10,247 - 11th-largest in Swayze Field history.
- The Ole Miss bullpen holds a 0.00 ERA over its last 22.2 innings of work, dating back five games to seventh inning vs. Mississippi State (March 30, 2017).
- Ole Miss was a perfect 4-for-4 with a runner on third and less than two outs.