OMAHA, Neb. – John Gatlin came off the bench for only his 29th at bat of the season and knocked a walk-off single to keep Ole Miss alive in the 2014 College World Series.
After Texas Tech tied the game with a run in the ninth inning, pinch hitter Blake Bortles walked and went to third base when pinch hitter Brantley Bell‘s chopper back to the mound was thrown away.
Texas Tech brought in sinkerballer Dominic Moreno to try to get a groundball and brought in the infield with an extra fielder from the outfield. But Gatlin came on to pinch hit and capped a low-and-away 1-2 pitch that was probably out of the strike zone.
The ball floated over the second baseman for a single to score pitcher Aaron Greenwood, who was pinch running at third base.
Here’s a slideshow of the walk-off hit (full game gallery below):
Neither team could score early as both starting pitchers handled business. But uncharacteristic shaky defense proved to be the Red Raiders doom. Along with the error setting up the game-winning run, Texas Tech also had an erro in the seventh inning.
The Rebels (47-20) took a 1-0 lead in the inning when Sikes Orvis reached on hard hit short-hopper that bounced off the second baseman. Interestingly, Bryant Burleson was playing in a typical second base positioning against Orvis rather than in shallow right field like he had earlier in the game. If Burleson had been in shallow right in the seventh inning, he likely would have had an easier play.
Instead, Orvis reached and after a walk, pinch hitter Holt Perdzock lined a single just inside the third base bag to score Orvis.
Following eight sparkling innings from Christian Trent, Ole Miss turned the ball over to Scott Weathersby in the ninth inning.
But he couldn’t lock it down. Adam Kirsch singled and pinch runner Zach Davis swiped second and third base before scoring on a sacrifice fly by Anthony Lyons.
But the run only delayed the agony of defeat for Texas Tech. Gatlin’s gamer-winner drove home the heartbreak of a successful season ended just a few games short.
Weathersby vultured the win to move his record to 4-1 on the season. Texas Tech reliever Cameron Smith (8-3) took the loss after his walk put the go-ahead run on base.
Ole Miss now faces the loser of TCU/Virginia on Thursday night at 7 p.m. CST. The Rebels will have to win three more games in a row to advance to the College World Series championship round.
Texas Tech’s season ends with a 45-21 record as the Coral Gables Regional and Lubbock Super Regional champions.
Here’s CBD photographer Shotgun Spratling‘s top shots from the 2014 College World Series Tuesday afternoon action at TD Ameritrade Park:
Be sure to check out our other coverage from Ole Miss’s walk-off victory: