OXFORD, Miss. (Ole Miss Athletics) – For the second straight day the Rebels went into extra innings and for the second consecutive game a senior delivered the big hit as Will Allen’s solo home run in the 10th inning gave No. 24 Ole Miss (10-1) a 5-4 win over UCF (6-4) Saturday afternoon.
The walk-off win was the fourth straight for the Rebels who have won four one-run games this week. It marked the second game-winning hit for Allen this week, who also delivered the game-winning, RBI single in the ninth against ULM Wednesday night.
“Will (Allen) is swinging so well and confidently,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “He had a big 3-0 double in the big four-run inning for us. Not a lot of balls go out to centerfield here. It was a well-struck ball.
“The good news is, we’ve been on the right end of (the walk-off wins),” Bianco said. “I’ve never seen this many in a row. Not even close to this. I’m proud of them. I’m proud of the toughness we’ve showed. I’m proud of the confidence that we’ve had in these situations. It seems like in the last four games, when it’s gotten down to it, we’ve played our best baseball.”
Wyatt Short (2-0) picked up the win in relief for the Rebels, working the final 2.0 innings without allowing a hit and striking out three batters. Short entered the game in the ninth with a man on base and no outs. He promptly got a strikeout and a double play to end the inning.
The freshman left-hander then retired the side in the 10th with a pair of strikeouts and a fly out to give the Rebels the chance to rally.
Trent Thompson (0-1) suffered the loss in relief for the Knights, allowing the one run on the solo shot from Allen to open the 10th inning. Thompson worked the final 2.0 innings for UCF.
The Knights got on the board first, pushing a run home in the first inning on an RBI single from Erik Barber. Derrick Salberg reached on a one-out single and a hit batter moved him to second. He then scored two batters later on the two-out single from Barber to give UCF the 1-0 lead.
A two-run home run in the fifth inning from Tommy Williams took the Knights’ lead out to 3-0 on the Rebels, marking the largest deficit of the season for an Ole Miss squad. Salberg scored on the Williams’ home run after reaching on a single in the previous at bat.
Ole Miss answered in the home half of the inning, using a four-run fifth inning to take the lead on UCF.
Back-to-back singles from Braxton Lee and Auston Bousfield opened the fifth inning for Ole Miss before a third consecutive single from Austin Anderson brought Lee home. Allen then hit a two-RBI double to the wall in right center to drive in Bousfield and Anderson, pushing the Rebels in front 4-3 after five innings of play.
The Knights tied things back up in the eighth inning when Salberg reached base for the third time on the afternoon, opening the frame with a single. A hit batter and a wild pitch moved him to third before the UCF centerfielder would score on a groundout to first from James Vasquez.
Ole Miss would turn to the bullpen for right-hander Preston Tarkington who got the Rebels out of the inning after relieving starter Christian Trent. Trent worked 7.1 innings, allowing four runs on six hits with seven strikeouts. The left-hander has still not allowed a walk through 20.1 innings of work this season.
Wyatt Short then entered the game after the first batter in the ninth, holding UCF off the board through the final two frames as the Rebels rallied for the series-clinching victory.
Ole Miss will face the Knights in the final game of the series at 12 p.m. on Sunday at Swayze Field.