5-run 4th leads Warhawks to win over No. 4 Ole Miss, 8-3

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OXFORD, Miss. – A five-run top of the fourth inning put ULM on top and the Warhawks pulled away, silencing No. 4 Ole Miss’ powerful offense over the final five innings for an 8-3 win on Sunday.

The victory is ULM’s first win over a Top-25 opponent since April 7, 2013, when they beat No. 25 Florida Atlantic, 8-4. It was ULM’s first Top-5 win since topping No. 5 Arkansas 3-2 in Fayetteville on April 14, 2009.

ULM head coach Michael Federico said it’s an important win for his program to knock off a Top-5 team.

“It’s one of those things that you have to check the box,” Federico said. “We’re taking small steps in the right direction, but we need a monumental leap forward. Beating teams like this is one of those steps. We’re trying to build a program. We haven’t done that yet. The program has always been great. There’s been some moments in the history of Warhawk baseball and Indian baseball, but in the past couple of years, we haven’t done that. This is one of those moments that you can look back and respond and say we’ve been here before, we’ve done this before. We needed it.”

ULM’s bullpen of Bryson Wrobel, Landon Longsworth, Carson Orton and Trey Lindsay combined to allow one run on six hits with two walks and two strikeouts over seven innings. Ole Miss did not score again after Jacob Gonzalez’s solo home run in the bottom of the fourth inning. Wrobel (1-1) earned the win as the first man out of the bullpen, giving up a run on two hits with a walk over two innings.

Offensively, Michael Cervantes had a career-high three hits with an RBI and two runs scored. Mason Holt and Andrew Beesley each had two hits including a double with an RBI and a run scored. Trace Henry walked three times and scored twice.

“These are some good pitchers that we were facing,” Cervantes said. “The first two days we were getting used to it. I came in today looking to be confident up there and get something to hit.”

Ole Miss opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning with Tim Elko’s two-run home run to left. It was Elko’s second home run of the series and seventh of the season as the Rebels went on top, 2-0.

“We handled some energy that they had early on and did what we do,” Federico said. “We stayed within ourselves. We applied pressure to them, they made some mistakes and we capitalized on those things.”

ULM broke through against Rebel starting pitcher Derek Diamond (1-2) in the fourth inning. Holt doubled down the left field line on the first pitch of the inning. Ryan Humeniuk followed with a strikeout, but a dropped third strike allowed Holt to move to third and Humeniuk reached safely at first. Danny DeSimone laid down a sacrifice bunt back to the pitcher, but Diamond’s toss home was high, allowing Holt to slide under catcher Hayden Dunhurst’s tag to cut the deficit in half, 2-1.

“I saw on the scouting report that I was going to get a lot of sliders,” Holt said. “I was always ready for that. But the first pitch of that inning, on that double, I was looking dead-red heater. He ended up giving me that and I was able to hit it for a double.”

The Warhawks continued to put pressure on the Rebels with small ball. Henry laid down a sacrifice bunt of his own. Diamond fielded the ball and threw to third base, but threw wide and down the left field line, allowing Humeniuk to score on the error and Henry and DeSimone to move up to second and third, respectively as the game was tied at 2. Cervantes ripped a single to left to plate DeSimone for the 3-2 lead. Wurm added a sacrifice fly to score Henry and Beesley picked up an RBI single to drive home Cervantes for the 5-2 advantage as ULM sent 10 men to the plate in the inning.

“That’s the main focus of our offense,” Cervantes said. “We have such a unique offensive lineup that we can do anything. We can hit the ball anywhere. We have a lot of bat control, power guys, speed guys.”

Gonzalez homered in the bottom half of the fourth, but ULM answered again in the fifth. Henry picked up a one-out walk and moved to third on a base hit by Cervantes. Wurm picked up an RBI single to right, scoring Henry to push the lead back to three, 6-3. With two outs in the inning, Wurm put himself in a run down between first and second. He forced the run down to continue long enough for Cervantes to score before the third out of the inning was recorded as ULM led 7-3.

Longsworth allowed a pair of baserunners in the bottom of the fifth but worked around them to keep the lead at four. In the seventh inning, Orton replaced Longsworth with a man on first and one out and forced Kevin Graham, who hit Saturday’s two-run walk-off home run, into a fielder’s choice and Elko into a fly out to end the inning.

“Coming in in those situations, you want to make sure you’re throwing strikes,” Orton said. “When you’re doing that, they’re going to swing and miss or get ground balls and get you out of that and you have confidence coming in. I really focus on getting that first pitch strike and get going to get out of the inning quick and kill the damage.”

ULM added an insurance run in the eighth inning. With two outs, Beesley doubled to right center. Travis Washburn struck out but another dropped third strike got away from Dunhurst and allowed Beesley to move to third and Washburn to reach safely. Holt then sent a base hit to right center to drive in Beesley for the 8-3 lead.

In the ninth inning, Ole Miss put runners on the corners with one out when Lindsay entered the game, getting Justin Bench to ground into a game-ending double play.

“Last night we saw that we could really play with anybody,” Holt said. “We showed a lot of resilience throughout. It was a tough loss but it made us more hungry to come out and today and get the win.”

The Warhawks face Oklahoma State at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, home of the Texas Rangers, at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Links to live video, audio, stats and tickets are available on the baseball schedule page at ULMWarhawks.com.

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