LAFAYETTE, La. — Pinch hitter Colby Bortles broke open the game with a two-run single in a three-run eighth inning Sunday night to lift the No. 12 Ole Miss baseball team to a 5-2 victory against No. 1 and sixth-seeded Louisiana-Lafayette in Game 2 of the NCAA tournament Lafayette Super Regional.
The teams will play a deciding Game 3 at 6 tonight (ESPN2) to decide which team will advance to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. Ole Miss is trying to get back to the College World Series for the first time since 1972.
Ole Miss scored the go-ahead run when center fielder Seth Harrison dropped a fly ball hit by Will Allen. Sikes Orvis then singled to load the bases, setting it up for Bortles — the younger brother of Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles.
“That’s the game and the game has crazy things that happen to it,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “If you’re there for 60-something games, you see all kinds of stuff. Some of those breaks go your way. You just have to keep battling and that’s what the kids did.
“We locked in and hung in there.”
Preston Overbey hit a solo home run in the seventh inning to put the Rebels (45-19) up 2-1.
“My job is when the pitcher makes a mistake to capitalize on it,” Overbey said. “He left it up and I got it.”
But Blake Trahan answered for the Ragin’ Cajuns (58-9) with an RBI single in the eighth, scoring Mike Strentz from second to tie it at 2.
Aaron Greenwood (3-1) picked up the win in relief, working the final two innings, allowing one run on two hits and a walk. He struck out two. Christian Trent worked seven innings in the start, allowing one unearned run on four hits and two walks. He struck out seven.
“I’m proud of our response after a tough night last night,” said Bianco, whose team lost Game 1 9-5. “We played well today against a very good Louisiana-Lafayette team. It comes down to pitching and we really needed the lift we got from Christian (Trent) tonight with him going deep into the game and keeping us in it. Then we got the big hits with the home run from (Preston) Overbey and Colby Bortles off the bench.”
Carson Baranik (11-2) suffered the loss, allowing three runs on six hits and four walks in seven innings. He struck out four.
Overbey said the Rebels have been in this situation before and the experience allowed them to stay up and get the three-run eighth.
“We knew it was a matter of time before it exploded,” Overbey said. “We came back in the dugout and told everyone to stay up, keep positive and get someone on.”
Ole Miss scored in the first inning when Allen doubled to right field, scoring Austin Anderson from first base and giving the Rebels a 1-0 lead.
A pair of errors by the Rebels helped Louisiana-Lafayette score its first run. Overbey had an errant throw to first base that allowed Harrison to reach. Dylan Butler then doubled and Harrison ran passed third. The throw to Allen, the Ole Miss catcher, was in time, but he dropped the ball and Harrison scored.
“Nobody could get the right hit at the right time,” ULL coach Tony Robichaux said. “We gave them a little crack and they crawled through it. Give them credit.”
Trent said he felt strong, even with the pressure involved in an elimination game.
“My routine stayed the same and I felt the same going out there,” Trent said. “Nothing really changed. Normally off-speed plays a bigger role, but tonight the fastball was what I used a lot.”
n Vanderbilt 12, Stanford 5: At Nashville, Tennessee, the Commodores weren’t quite sure what to think of themselves a few weeks ago.
Vanderbilt entered the NCAA tournament having lost six of its last 11, but thanks to some fresh faces and some big wins, the Commodores are riding high and headed to the College World Series.
Vince Conde and John Norwood had three hits and two RBIs each and Vanderbilt combined for six runs in the seventh and eighth innings to beat Stanford on Sunday to advance to Omaha for the second time in program history and first since 2011.
“It was amazing,” said freshman Hayden Stone, who pitched six innings of three-hit baseball to close the game and earn the win. “Just the opportunity to be out there in that certain time. Just daydreamed about it all the time. I’m glad I got to accomplish that.”
Corbin credited Bryan Reynolds, a freshman all-American, and fellow freshmen Stone and catcher Jason Delay for their vital roles Sunday.
“You look at three of the key components today: freshmen,” he said. “Those kids do not act like freshman. They haven’t been here very long, but they fit in nicely.”
Reynolds finished 8-for-12 in the three-game series.
Corbin, who is in his 12th year guiding the Commodores, said his players have developed into a team as of late.
“I think what’s happened with the kids is that they developed an identity,” he said. “As I told them before the SEC tournament, it’s never too late, it’s never too late to develop into a team and not because we’re winning, but I think that the personalities are starting to grow together a little bit more than the beginning of the year and the middle of the year.”