HAVING A BLAST: Lartigue’s walk-off HR gives Rebels sweep over Kentucky

Published 6:06 am Sunday, May 15, 2016

The series was won, but it had the makings of Kentucky leaving town being able to salvage the series as the Wildcats were leading Ole Miss 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth Saturday.

Henri Lartigue had other ideas for the final home game of the regular season.

Ole Miss’ catcher hit a three-run home run, giving the No. 6 Rebels a 7-5 walk-off win over Kentucky. It was the third time this season Ole Miss (39-13, 17-10 Southeastern Conference) overcame a deficit of five runs or more.

Brady Bramlett and David Parkinson had two good outings for the Rebels (38-14, 16-11 Southeastern Conference) in the first two games, but James McArthur struggled yet again in a series finale.

McArthur struggled, working 2 1/3 innings and giving up five earned runs off of two home runs. Center fielder Tristan Pompey hit a two-run home run in the second inning while third baseman JaVon Shelby hit a three-run home run in the third, giving Kentucky (29-23, 13-14) an early 5-0 lead and ending the freshman’s day. The right-hander gave up six hits while striking out two Kentucky batters and issued zero free passes.

“I blame myself on a couple pitches,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “Just bad pitches that I called. Things that we went away from that we were doing. Pitches that were dumb calls by me that led to some hits and a home run. The game sped up, and you could see once (McArthur) got behind, he lost some of his command.”

The offense got going for the Rebels in the fourth when center fielder J.B. Woodman hit a solo home run, his 12th of the season. Ole Miss added two more off of unearned runs when shortstop Errol Robinson walked to bring in left fielder Connor Cloyd. Second baseman Tate Blackman followed up with an RBI to score Robinson and make it a 5-3 game.

In the seventh inning, Woodman reached on a Kentucky throwing error, allowing Olenek to score and cut the deficit to one. The Rebels had chances in the eighth inning, but they left the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position after Robinson popped up to first baseman Evan White.

“It kind of felt like the Auburn series honestly,” senior designated hitter Holt Perdzock said after his potentially final game at Swayze Field. “We were hitting balls good, and you could tell something was going to happen in the ninth.”

Blackman hit a one-out double in the ninth followed by Woodman earning a walk to set up Lartigue’s moment. Having been behind the plate all afternoon, he was familiar with what home plate umpire Jeffery Macias had been calling in the strike zone. The catcher used it to his advantage at the most opportune time.

“Just because you know the zone better than anybody on the team,” Lartigue said. “You’ve been back there for nine innings, and you know (Macias) was a guy who was big up and down but he was big off the plate. I knew that going into it, and I just had to make sure that I was able to get my hands extended and get a ball in the air.”

The Rebels return to action Tuesday when they travel to Jonesboro, Arkansas, for a game against Arkansas State.