HOOVER, ALA.—-Fourth-ranked Ole Miss eliminated eighth-ranked Georgia 5-4 in 10 innings at the SEC Tournament Thursday at the Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.
Sophomore Grae Kessinger led off the bottom of the first with his seventh home run to give the Rebels a 1-0 advantage. In the fourth inning, an RBI-single by Chase Cockrell scored Will Golsan who was on after a leadoff double. Bulldog senior right-hander Chase Adkins started and provided five innings and allowing two runs on seven hits with two strikeouts.
Heading to the seventh, Georgia had just three baserunners on the day, a single by Adam Sasser in the second, a two-out double by L.J. Talley in the fifth and a one-out walk to C.J. Smith in the sixth. Then, senior Keegan McGovern smashed a leadoff double, his 14thof the year. After Michael Curry moved him to third with a groundout, Sasser followed with a sacrifice fly to cut the deficit to 2-1. The run snapped a stretch of 33 scoreless innings by the Bulldogs at the SEC Tournament.
With Cam Shepherd at the plate in the seventh, the game was halted for one hour and 54 minutes due to rain and lightning. When play resumed, Ole Miss closer Parker Caracci took the mound and finished the frame. Georgia turned to freshman Ryan Webb. Kessinger struck again in the seventh with a leadoff double and later scored on a fielder’s choice by Thomas Dillard for a 3-1 lead.
In the eighth with two Bulldogs in scoring position and two outs, Aaron Schunk hit a chopper back to Caracci who opted to throw it home and it was wide of the catcher and went to the backstop, allowing two runs to score and tie the contest. Talley had led off the inning with a double and pinch-hitter Tucker Bradley followed with a single. Pinch-runner Ivan Johnson stole second before Caracci came back to strike out pinch-hitter Mason Meadows and C.J. Smith to bring up Schunk who ended up at third on the bizarre play. Schunk, who also serves as the closer, came in to pitch in the bottom of the inning.
In the 10th, Talley blasted his sixth home run of the year to put Georgia in front 4-3. However in the bottom of the inning, the Rebels (43-15) answered with a pair of runs capped by an RBI-single by Tim Rowe for the walk-off victory to end a contest that lasted 3:10. Caracci improved to 4-2 while Schunk dropped to 2-2.
“It was a tough way to lose after a back-and-forth game, and we tied it in crazy fashion and then took a lead, and baseball can be a cruel game,” said Georgia’s Ike Cousins head baseball coach Scott Stricklin. “It’s a disappointing way to end the game, and you have to credit Ole Miss for coming back too. They’re a very good team, a top five team, and I think what we’ve done over the course of the season, we’ll be a national seed. I think the SEC will have four national seeds and we’ll get back home and get some rest and get ready for an NCAA Regional. “
The Bulldogs (37-19) now wait until Sunday evening when the 16 NCAA Regional hosts are announced, and then on Monday at noon on ESPNU, the field of 64 including the top 16 seeds for the NCAA Baseball Championship will be revealed.