Ole Miss will defend their SEC Championship on Sunday after beating the Georgia Bulldogs 5-3 in the semifinals Saturday afternoon.
Gutsy outings from Houston Roth and Parker Caracci along with three-hit games from Grae Kessinger and Cole Zabowski have the Rebels getting closer and closer to possibly hosting an NCAA Regional.
The Georgia bats jumped on Ole Miss starter Houston Roth early with a two-run homer from Mason Meadows in the second. Roth had only started three games before today and held a 4.02 ERA in 18 appearances. He was able to find his groove after the inning, however, striking our four in his 4.2 innings of work.
Ole Miss has been quiet at the plate early in every game this week, finding hits where they mattered most, and Georgia’s top MLB draft prospect Emerson Hancock had the Rebels on their heels before they started to make contact in the third.
Anthony Servideo turned a leadoff single into the Rebels’ first run in the third inning. Servideo stole his 22nd base of the season to get to second and got to third with a bunt from Jacob Adams. Thomas Dillard put the ball in play to cut the lead in half.
Hancock, already on a pitch count, was pulled in the forth inning due to a cut on his right thumb, but not before the Rebels sprayed a few hits around the park to take the lead. Hancock allowed three back-to-back hits with no outs in the inning.
Freshman Kevin Graham continued his success at the plate this week with an RBI single to plate Cole Zabowski and Cooper Johnson grounded to the shortstop to bring Ryan Olenek home.
Georgia briefly tied the score in the fifth, only to be broken by a two-run bomb to left field from Grae Kessinger, who swaggered down the first base line admiring the rocket. It looked like the Rebels would extend the lead with the bases loaded and no outs, but Tony Locey got out of the jam with two strikeouts and a groundout.
Mike Bianco used a host of pitchers from the bullpen, including Max Cioffi, Conner Green and Kaleb Hill, before going to Parker Caracci for the last four outs. Caracci escaped the ninth inning with the tying runs in scoring position.
One thing to watch going forward is the health of Tyler Keenan, who had to be helped of the field after the sixth inning. The third basemen most likely came out due to the heat, but Bianco might look to shuffle the lineup. Olenek moved down to third base while freshman Josh Hall replaced him in center field.
The Rebels will await the winner of the LSU-Vanderbilt game to see who they’ll face in the championship game Sunday at 2 p.m.