COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The upperclassmen set the table and a group of freshman finished things off in an eighth inning rally as Ole Miss (36-24) defeated TCU (36-20) in the opening game of NCAA Regional play at Texas A&M on Friday.
With the bases loaded in the eighth and the score knotted at two, freshman Auston Bousfield drew a full count walk to give Ole Miss its first lead of the game and Sikes Orvis followed it up with a two-RBI single up the middle as the Rebels claimed the win over the Horned Frogs.
Juniors Tanner Mathis and Alex Yarbrough, and senior Zach Kirksey all reached to load the bases with one out before the freshmen came up with the clutch plays to catapult the Rebels into the lead. Freshman catcher Austin Knight came up with the final RBI in the inning as Ole Miss plated four runs to grab the four-run lead.
"We played really well today, and it started on the mound," said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. "Bobby Wahl gave us a great effort and got deep into the game. We were very clean defensively and R.J. Hively just did what he's done for us the last half of the season over the last two innings.
"Tanner (Mathis) really kept the pressure on them all game," Bianco said. "He got things going for us in both of our innings where we rallied. Two freshmen were clutch in that big inning for us to break the game open. Sikes (Orvis) has been tremendous and really getting good swings off for us."
Wahl (7-3) picked up the win, allowing two runs on four hits with nine strikeouts and did not walk a batter in 7.0 innings of work. Hively then closed out the final two frames, allowing one hit with three strikeouts.
Brandon Finnegan (3-4) took the loss in relief for TCU, allowing two runs on one hit with a walk in the eighth inning. He did not record an out. Starter Preston Morrison allowed two runs on six hits with two walks and five strikeouts through 6.1 innings and left the game with the score tied to take no decision.
Mathis and Yarbrough and Andrew Mistone all posted two hits on the afternoon to lead the Rebel offense at the plate.
TCU got on the board first, using back-to-back singles to open the home half of the inning and put men at the corners before Kevin Cron grounded out to first to bring the lead runner home. Ole Miss would then get a pop out and a strikeout to end the inning, but TCU held the 1-0 lead.
Cron then hit a solo shot to open the fourth inning, taking an 0-2 count over the wall in left field to give the Horned Frogs a 2-0 lead on the Rebels.
Ole Miss got on the board in the sixth inning with an RBI triple to the wall in right center from Alex Yarbrough that scored Tanner Mathis and made it 2-1. Mathis reached on a single up the middle to start the inning. Matt Snyder then grounded out to second to bring Yarbrough home and tie the game at two.
The Rebels broke things open in the eighth inning, loading the bases with one out before Bousfield got things start with a walk to bring home Tanner Mathis and put Ole Miss in the lead. Sikes Orvis then delivered a single up the middle to drive in two more runs and the Rebels held a 5-2 lead as TCU went to the bullpen for the fifth pitcher of the day.
Ole Miss added a sixth run to the scoreboard a batter later when Austin Knight hit a grounder to second base that went through the wickets and scored Bousfield from third. The RBI ground ball made it 6-2 in favor of the Rebels before TCU would turn a double play to end the inning.
R.J. Hively then shut the Horned Frogs down over the final two innings to give the Rebels the win and advance to game two of the regional at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday night. Ole Miss will face the winner of Friday night's contest between host Texas A&M and Dayton.
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