By Jeff Roberson/Special to the Daily Journal
OXFORD – Ole Miss entered Sunday’s two games with Texas A&M in position to make an early statement in Southeastern Conference play. Instead it was the visiting Aggies who did so.
Ole Miss lost 2-1 in the opener and 10-6 in the finale, as storms on Saturday forced the teams to play two seven-inning games on Sunday.
“A tough day for us,” said Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco. “The first game we played OK, but we just didn’t do enough to win the game. In Game 2, just very disappointing. We go up 5-0 in the first in a short, seven-inning game at home. You’ve got to be able to close it out.”
But the Rebels did not, and the series went to the Aggies.
Ole Miss won 8-2 on Friday.
In Sunday’s Game 1, Rebel starter Mike Mayers got off to a shaky start in the first inning, as he had in the second game of the Arkansas series last weekend.
A hit batter and a walk led to a RBI single by cleanup hitter Mitchell Nau.
But Mayers settled down nicely after that and had five solid innings before giving way to Tanner Bailey who finished things up.
The Aggies were able to add to the 1-0 lead in the third inning. Again it was Nau who came through, this time with a solo home run for a 2-0 Texas A&M lead. But the Aggies would get no more.
Ole Miss got its lone run in the fourth on a round-tripper by catcher Stuart Turner, his third home run of the season.
Mayers (2-2) took the loss, and Texas A&M starter Daniel Mengden (4-1) got the win. Jason Jester, who went the final 11⁄3 innings, got his seventh save.
Fast start, tough finish
In Game 2, after the Aggies got nothing in the top of the first off Ole Miss starter Sam Smith, the Rebels unleashed an offensive attack in the bottom of the inning that scored five runs and chased A&M starter Jason Freeman.
Leading 2-0 already, the Rebels (21-4, 3-3) scored three runs on a Will Jamison two-RBI single and an error on Aggie first baseman Cole Lankford.
But Texas A&M (17-8, 5-1 SEC) chipped away at the 5-0 Rebel lead, tying it with two runs in the second and three more in the top of the fifth. A four-run seventh gave Texas A&M a 9-5 lead, and they cruised to victory.
The Aggies overcame three errors in the nightcap.
“We have to forget about this and move on,” said Rebel senior Tanner Mathis. “We’ll come back from this and get after it.”
Chris Ellis (1-1), who hadn’t pitched in five weeks because of injury, took the Game 2 loss in relief. Matt Kent (2-1), also in relief, got the win for the Aggies.
Ole Miss plays host to Arkansas State on Wednesday, then visits Florida next weekend.