Walker: ‘Jake from Plate Farm’ homers his way into Tulane lore _lowres

Photo by Bruce Newman/The Oxford Eagle via AP -- From left, Tulane pitchers Sam Bjorngjeld, Corey Merrill and Emerson Gibbs celebrate a two-run home run by Jake Rogers during the eighth inning of the Green Wave's 6-5 win over Ole Miss on Saturday in Oxford, Miss.

OXFORD, Miss. — Jake Rogers knew it was gone as soon as it left his bat.

His coach, David Pierce, knew it too.

So did Jake’s mom, Susan, who was standing in the Swayze Field crowd right behind home plate.

“Oh hell yeah, I knew,” she said.

She had heard that same sound of a ball coming off her son’s bat plenty of times before while listening to Tulane games on the radio back home in west Texas.

This one sounded no different.

But there was one difference.

This one, a two-run blast that led to Tulane stunning top seed and host Ole Miss 6-5, will be talked about in Tulane baseball lore for years to come.

Especially if the Green Wave can somehow manage to rally and win this Oxford regional.

It was the seventh homer of the season for “Jake from Plate Farm,” as some have started calling the junior catcher expected to hear his name called in next week’s draft.

Rogers, one of several heroes on this day, will remember this one more than all those others. And so will all the other 10,000 or so fans packed into the stadium Saturday.

The ball rocketed off Rogers’ bat, sailing into the left-field stands before finally landing right into the hearts of the Ole Miss faithful.

Swayze Field, which was electric all Saturday afternoon, suddenly went quiet — much like it will be for the rest of the weekend, now that the host team has been eliminated.

Tulane, meanwhile, lives to fight another day. Rogers became a hero just moments after almost becoming one. Moments earlier, he blasted a shot that sailed just a few feet left of the left-field foul pole.

“When he hit that foul ball, everyone went nuts for a second, then you realize it’s hooking foul,” said teammate Hunter Williams. “We just wanted him to lock back in. And he did. When he hit it, there was no doubt. The dugout exploded.”

So did a small pocket of fans clad in green, dwarfed in the season of red.

Meanwhile, Susan Rogers broke down in tears as her son rounded the bases.

Jake isn’t quite sure what he did.

“I don’t really remember it,” he said. “I kind of blacked out a little bit, but it was good.”

With one swing of the bat, Rogers turned the Oxford regional into the Tulane regional. Much like 12 years ago when the Green Wave won the Oxford regional while Ole Miss went 0-2.

If Saturday’s winner’s bracket game between Utah and Boston College is any indication (and assuming more Tulane fans make the trip up Interstate 55 on Sunday), Green Wave fans should easily outnumber the Utes and Eagles fans.

“We have great support and a lot of buzz on campus so I expect us to have a really good, vocal crowd,” Pierce said. “We have two good teams here we have to fight against.”

Tulane will need to beat both of those teams Sunday just to get to a championship game Monday.

“We feel it’s ours now,” Williams said. “We just have to go out and take it now.”

The Wave will likely need mire heroic efforts Sunday. There were plenty more Saturday.

There were a pair of solo homers by Hunter Williams. And there was Grant Brown, playing for the first time since his father’s death two weeks ago. Brown’s double in the seventh drove in a run in the seventh and he later scored to tie it.

Then Corey Merrill threw the final three innings, not giving up a hit in the final two after surrendering the go-ahead run in the seventh. All of it helped set up Rogers’ homer that he ranks “one or two” amongst his career homers.

I’m guessing Tulane fans will rank it at the top.