By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Ole Miss, among the last five to get into the NCAA tournament, is the last team standing in the winner’s bracket at the College Station Regional today.
Sophomore right-hander Mike Mayers made the pitches, and the No. 3 seed Rebels repeatedly produced timely hits to turn back No. 1 seed and host Texas A&M 6-3 Saturday night before a crowd of 5,445 at Blue Bell Park.
Ole Miss advances to the regional championship game against the Texas A&M-TCU winner tonight at 6:35. If the Rebels lose, a final game will be played Monday night.
Rebels leadoff hitter Tanner Mathis was 3 for 3, reached base five times, drove in a run and scored three times, and first baseman Matt Snyder had a pair of hits, one a double, and three RBIs.
Mayers went 6 1/3 innings, allowing three runs, two earned, three walks and nine strikeouts.
With help from relievers Brett Huber and R.J. Hively, the latter recording his fourth save, Ole Miss pitchers held the Aggies to 1 for 12 hitting with runners in scoring position.
Texas A&M improved to 31-10 at home after a clean 4-1 effort of dominant pitching in its regional opener Friday against Dayton.
Aggies right-hander Ross Stripling entered the game 10-3 with a 2.90 earned run average. Stripling’s six runs allowed matched a season-high, having given up six runs to Oklahoma State earlier this month.
“Stripling was as good as anybody we faced all year. He really battled, but I thought we were great offensively,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “Tanner was tremendous.”
The Aggies (43-17) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the third, but the Rebels tied the game in the bottom of the inning when Mathis and Alex Yarbrough opened with back-to-back singles.
Mathis scored on a wild pitch, and Yarbrough scored on a two-out hit by Auston Bousfield.
The Rebels (37-24) took the lead in the fourth when Snyder doubled to the wall in center, and Andrew Mistone and Mathis scored. Mathis reached on a double down the right field line, a source of controversy for the first base umpire.
Mistone led off the sixth with a single and took second on a throwing error and scored on a Mathis double. Snyder singled to drive in Mathis, and the Rebels were in command at 6-2.
Huber stranded an inherited runner in the seventh after Aamp&M had cut the lead to 6-3. He pitched himself into and out of trouble in the eighth.
Two Aggies reached base after Huber recorded the lead-off out in the ninth. Hively threw eight pitches and ended the game with a pop-up and ground ball.
“It feels really good. The hitters, we put it on ourselves to win this thing,” Mathis said. “We knew we were going to get a great outing from our pitchers like we have the last two months. We put it upon ourselves to get the big hit, and it’s paid off so far.”