FORT WORTH, Texas –Alex Yarbrough went 2-or-5 with a home run and three RBI to help the Rebel offense to a big win on Friday night as No. 22 Ole Miss (1-0) defeated No. 10 TCU (0-1) in the first game of a three-game series.
With the win, Ole Miss improved to 11-1 in season-opening games under head coach Mike Bianco.
The Rebel offense performed well in the outing as Andrew Mistone also homered as part of a night that saw the junior go 1-for-2 and was hit by pitch twice. Eight Rebels recorded hits on the night.
Bobby Wahl (1-0) picked up the win in his first start as a part of the weekend rotation, allowing two runs – both earned – on five hits with two walks and two strikeouts in 5.0 innings of work.
Brett Huber picked up his first save of the season, closing out the ninth with a walk and two strikeouts while holding the Horned Frogs hitless. It was Huber’s 17th save of his career, moving him into fourth on the career saves list and one save behind Scott Bittle or third all-time.
Andrew Mitchell (0-1) suffered the loss for TCU, allowing four runs – three earned – on six hits in 6.0 innings of work. He struck out four and did not allow a walk on the night.
“We really played well tonight, especially for opening night on the road against a good team in TCU,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “Bobby Wahl didn’t have his best stuff, but he made big pitches when he needed to and hung in there. We showed our athleticism defensively, especially in the outfield.
“We also got a solid outing from Sam Smith and Dylan Chavez,” Bianco said. “I really thought tonight was about our offense against a very good pitcher in (Andrew) Mitchell. We won’t see many better than him this season. We just won a few more at bats than they did at crucial times. Overall, we just competed very hard.”
Ole Miss struck first, scoring a single run in the third when Austin Bousfield grounded out to second with the bases loaded scored Blake Newalu. The Rebels loaded the bases with back-to-back singles from Preston Overbey and Newalu before a Will Jamison bunt single put three men on base. The Horned Frogs got the first out before the Newalu score on the Bousfield grounder. Ole Miss would get no more out of the inning, however, as TCU got the next two outs to get out of the inning.
TCU pushed two runs across in the bottom half of the inning to take the lead for the first time on the night. With two men on base and one out following a lead-off walk and a hit batter, Kyle Von Tungelin singled to score Davy Wright and leave men at the corners. A sac fly to center from Jason Coats brought in the second run as the Horned Frogs went up 2-1. A grounder to third with men at second and third a batter later got the Rebels out of the inning trailing by one run.
The Rebels evened things up at two in the fourth when Will Allen scored on a throwing error from the second baseman as he tried to turn a double play. Allen, who had reached with a single and moved to second when Mistone was hit by a pitch, moved to third on the grounder to short from Overbey, and scored when the throw to first from the second baseman was in the dirt and got away from the Horned Frog first baseman.
Ole Miss kept the score tied in the bottom of the inning when Bousfield threw out the go-ahead run at the plate to get the Rebels out of the fourth without any damage.
The Rebels then moved back in front in the fifth inning when Yarbrough got the first home run of the season for Ole Miss, scoring Jamison on the shot to right. Jamison reached on a lead-off single before moving to third on back-to-back groundouts. The home run from Yarbrough gave Ole Miss a 4-2 lead.
Ole Miss extended the lead in the seventh with back-to-back RBI singles with two out. With Bousfield at first, Yarbrough hit a shallow shot to left center that fell in between three converging outfielders, allowing the freshman to score. Yarbrough moved to second on the throw home as TCU attempted to throw out Bousfield. Matt Snyder singled to right in the next at bat to drive in Yarbrough and give the Rebels the 6-2 lead.
TCU cut into the lead in the home half of the seventh, using a lead-off double and a wild pitch to put Wright at third base. A double off the wall in right from Keaton Jones brought home Wright and cut the lead to three.
With two outs on the board and a man on third, Coats took a full count pitch back up the middle to drive in a second run in the inning and trim the Rebel lead to two at 6-4. Ole Miss then turned to the bullpen for the second time, sending freshman Sam Smith to the mound to replace reliever Dylan Chavez.
Mistone pushed the lead back out to three runs for the Rebels in the eighth inning, belting a home run down the left field line to make it 7-4 in favor of Ole Miss.
Smith kept the Horned Frogs off the board in the eighth before Huber worked a scoreless ninth to close out the game and preserve the win for the Rebels.
Ole Miss and TCU will play game two of the series at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Fans can follow the action on gametracker or watch the game on RebelVision at www.OleMissSports.com.
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