OXFORD, Miss. – A pair of two-run blasts to deep center field by team captain J.B. Woodman put the icing on a monster weekend for the junior as No. 9 Ole Miss cruised past No. 8 LSU 8-2 Saturday afternoon at Swayze Field. With the victory over the Tigers (28-16, 11-10 SEC), the Rebels (33-12, 12-9 SEC) claimed their second series over a top-10 team this season.
Woodman extended his home run count to a team-leading eight after becoming the first Rebel to homer twice in one game since former slugger Sikes Orvis (May 3, 2015 at Missouri). Woodman went 2-for-4 on the day with four RBI and scored three runs, capping off a weekend where he hit three home runs, drove in eight runs and threw three runners out at the plate.
The Ole Miss bats played a huge role in the game with 13 total hits on the day against the Tigers. Four Rebels had multi-hit games including Tate Blackman, Woodman, Colby Bortles and Cameron Dishon. The middle of the lineup (3-5 hitters) went a combined 8-for-12 with seven runs and six RBI. Bortles and Blackman had three hits apiece while Woodman and Dishon each had two. Bortles also ripped a solo home run, completing back-to-back blasts for the Rebels in the first inning.
“We swung it well all weekend from top to bottom,” said the Rebels’ head coach Mike Bianco. “We were able to get guys on, move them around and score some runs which – all we hoped for against a team like LSU.”
Reigning SEC Freshman of the Week James McArthur made his first start on the mound against a conference opponent. The right hander lasted 3.1 innings without allowing a run as he had to deal with two rain delays lasting nearly one hour. Fellow freshman Andy Pagnozzi (7-2) entered the win in relief with 3.2 scoreless innings in the weekend finale. The win was Pagnozzi’s seventh of the season, including his sixth in relief, which leads the Ole Miss pitching staff. Right-handed closer Will Stokes helped to shut down any chance the Tigers had, tossing two scoreless innings and surrendering only one LSU hit.
“Pagnozzi came in there and did what he does – he has lots of guts and made some pitches,” noted Bianco. “He gave us good innings to get Stokes on the mound in the eighth.”
Chris Reid paced LSU in the loss, going a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate. On the mound, John Valek III (6-2) suffered just his second loss of the season as Ole Miss put up four run on four hits in just 1.1 innings off the Tigers’ starter.
After McArthur stranded two LSU runners in the opening frame, the Rebels jumped on the Tigers with a two-out rally. Blackman got the bats rolling with a double to left field. For the second time this weekend, Woodman approached the plate with Blackman waiting in scoring position and delivered. The junior captain belted a bomb over the wall in center field for a two-run homer. After the Rebels celebrated the Woodman home run, Bortles joined the party and went yard with a solo shot to right, giving Ole Miss a 3-0 lead after the first.
In the top of the second inning, LSU put pressure on the Rebels. The Tigers loaded the bases after a single, a double and a walk. With one out, the Rebels worked their way out of the jam when McArthur forced LSU right fielder Antoine Duplantis into a line out double play to second with Blackman making the turn to throw the runner out at first.
Will Golsan led off the second inning and reached base after being hit by the pitch. After the at-bat, inclement weather forced the two teams into the dugouts for a 46-minute rain delay. Once play was resumed, Cameron Dishon ripped the first pitch he saw for a RBI double down the left field line to plate Golsan and lift Valek III out of the game.
With a 4-0 lead, the Rebels pieced together three consecutive scoring innings when another run was plated in the bottom of the third. Woodman worked the pitcher to a full count before taking ball four. Bortles followed by drawing a full count on LSU’s Doug Norman. With Woodman running on the pitch, Bortles ripped a RBI double to left field to extend the Ole Miss cushion to five.
A scoreless fourth went by with Pagnozzi entering the game during the top half. Pagnozzi and the Rebels forced LSU to leave the bases loaded for the second time in the game.
Woodman continued to strike and helped put more runs on the board for the Rebels. With Caleb Gilbert on the mound for LSU, Blackman sent a single back up the middle. For the second time of the day, Woodman raked a homer to center field to make it a 7-0 ballgame.
In the bottom of the seventh, Bortles got things rolling once again with a single to right-center field. Lartigue was walked before Golsan reached first on a fielder’s choice, forcing him out at second. However, Bortles made it to third safely on the play. With runners on the corners and one down, pinch hitter Holt Perdzock sent a sacrifice fly to center field to add another Ole Miss insurance run.
With Ole Miss leading by eight runs, LSU fought back in the eighth, scoring one run off of a double and a RBI single. The Tigers were able to load the bases for the third time in the game as Stokes entered the game in the pressure situation with no outs. One more run scored on a fielder’s choice before the LSU lined into another double play at second base.
Stokes came out for the ninth and kept the Tigers off the scoreboard. Fittingly, the Woodman secured the game’s final out on a flyball to center, wrapping up a huge SEC series for not only himself but also for Ole Miss against rival LSU.
Up next, Ole Miss will host Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the final home midweek game of the season (May 4). First pitch from Swayze Field is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CT. Following the home non-conference matchup, the Rebels will hit the road to face Georgia in another SEC series (May 6-8). All four games will be broadcast on SECN+ and can be heard on the Ole Miss IMG Sports Network.