COLLEGE STATION, Texas –Mike Mayers struck out a career-high nine batters as part of a three pitcher effort as Ole Miss (37-24) kept top-seeded and eighth-ranked Texas A&M (43-17) in check on the way to a 6-3 win over the Aggies on Saturday.
With the win, the Rebels advance to the championship game of the NCAA Regional on Sunday night and will face the winner of Sunday afternoon’s elimination game between Texas A&M and TCU. The Horned Frogs and Aggies will face-off at 12:35 p.m. with the Rebels waiting in game two at 6:35 p.m.
Mayers (6-3) picked up the win with nine strikeouts through 6.1 innings of work, allowing three runs – two earned – on four hits with three walks. Brett Huber then turned in two innings of work, allowing one hit with three strikeouts before R.J. Hively picked up the save by recording the final two outs of the game.
It was Hively’s fourth save of the season as he entered the game with two men on base and one out in the ninth inning.
“That was a great baseball game,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “It was a war out there with both teams competing hard. It can be very emotional playing the host team with a great crowd behind them like that tonight. Ross Stripling was as good as anyone we’ve faced all year.
“We got some big hits,” Bianco said. Tanner Mathis really makes us go and the guys behind him can really hit. But that’s all for naught if not for the effort on the mound. Mike (Mayers), Brett (Huber) and R.J. (Hively) put out tremendous effort for us on the mound tonight.”
Mathis reached base on all five plate appearances, going 3-for-3 with two walks, three runs scored and an RBI to lead the Rebel offense.
Texas A&M got on the board in the third inning when Tyler Naquin delivered a two-out double to right field that scored Mikey Reynolds from second. Reynolds reached on a single up the middle to open the inning and moved to second on a sac bunt. Naquin then scored on a throwing error when Matt Juengel lay down a bunt down the first base line and the throw went into right field, allowing Naquin to score and putting Juengel on third base and give the Aggies the 2-0 lead.
Ole Miss answered with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the frame when Mathis came home on a wild pitch. Mathis singled up the middle before taking second on a single to right from Alex Yarbrough. A groundout to third from Snyder moved both men into scoring position to set up the Rebel rally. Mathis then scored on the wild pitch before Yarbrough came home on a single to right from Auston Bousfield to tie the game at two.
The Rebels moved into the lead in the fourth when Matt Snyder delivered a two-RBI double to the wall with the bases loaded to put Ole Miss on top 4-2. Andrew Mistone reached on a throwing error on a ground ball to third before a double down the right field line from Mathis put both men in scoring position. The Aggies intentionally walked Alex Yarbrough to bring Snyder to the plate who delivered the two-run hit to center. Texas A&M got Yarbrough out at the plate on the Snyder hit as he tried to score, and a strikeout in the next at bat ended the inning with Ole Miss on top 4-2.
Ole Miss continued to build on the lead in the sixth inning with another two runs that pushed the lead out to 6-2. Mistone opened the frame with a single up the middle and took second on a throwing error by the shortstop on the play. A one out double from Mathis brought Mistone home before a Yarbrough groundout pushed Mathis to third. He then scored on a single from Snyder to give the Rebels the four-run lead.
Texas A&M cut the lead in half in the seventh inning when Krey Bratsen delivered a double down the third base line to bring Reynolds home from first. Reynolds reached on a single up the middle in the previous at bat. Ole Miss turned to its bullpen after the Bratsen hit for Brett Huber who got the Rebels out of the inning with no more damage.
Huber held the Aggies off the board in the eighth inning, pitching the Rebels out of another jam, and recording the first out of the ninth before turning the ball over to Hively with two men on base. The senior right hander then coaxed a pop out and a groundout of the Aggies to preserve the win for the Rebels.
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