COLLEGE STATION, Texas (Ole Miss Athletics) – The Rebels used a big sixth inning to push past the Aggies before adding a pair of late insurance runs as No. 11 Ole Miss (39-15, 18-10 SEC) defeated Texas A&M (31-22, 13-15 SEC) by a score of 8-4 Thursday night in the series opener at Blue Bell Park.
The Rebels used five hits, two free bases and capitalized on three errors to put together a six-run sixth inning and grab the win over the Aggies.
Chris Ellis (9-0) finished the regular season without a loss as he worked 6.2 innings and allowed three runs on eight hits with a walk and two strikeouts. Aaron Greenwood then picked up his third save of the season, working 2.1 innings and allowing a hit, a walk and two strikeouts.
Daniel Mengden (4-7) suffered the loss as he allowed six runs, but only one of them earned, on nine hits with a pair of walks and two strikeouts in 8.0 innings of work.
“We’ve been able to respond this year whether it be the adversity of an inning or a loss, and the tough situations that might get dealt by this game,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “I’m proud of the way we responded to them scoring by coming back and putting runs on the board tonight. Texas A&M opened the door a bit with the errors, but we took advantage of the opportunities that were presented to us.
Ole Miss got its first chance in the third inning, putting two men on with back-to-back singles from Errol Robinson and Braxton Lee to start the inning. Auston Bousfield then lay down a sac bunt to move them into scoring position. Texas A&M’s Mengden responded with a strikeout and a foul fly to end the inning and strand both runners, keeping the Rebels off the board.
Texas A&M got on the board in the fourth inning when Logan Nottebrok hit a solo shot to right field with two outs. The rally continued with back-to-back singles that put men at the corners before Jace Statum would double to right center to bring a second run home. Ole Miss got out of the inning in the next at bat with a groundout to third, but trailed 2-0.
The Rebels answered in the top of the fifth when Preston Overbey scored on a fielder’s choice to second from Lee. A walk and a single from Errol Robinson to right center put two men on to start the inning. Lee then hit a sharp ground ball to second to erase Robinson from the basepath, but a throwing error on the play to try to turn two allowed Lee to reach and take second on a dead ball call as Overbey scored.
Bousfield was hit by a pitch in the next at bat to put two men on and bring Austin Anderson to the plate. Anderson hit a sharp chopper to first that was misplayed, allowing Bousfield to take third and Lee to score to tie the game. Will Allen then hit a sac fly to the wall in right to score Bousfield and Ole Miss held a 3-2 lead.
Sikes Orvis would reach on an infield single to put two men on before J.B. Woodman would bring Anderson home from second on a single to left. Will Jamison then hit an infield single to short to load the bases and bring Overbey to the plate for the second time in the inning. The senior second baseman then drove a two-RBI single to left that put Ole Miss on top 6-2 after the top of the fifth.
Texas A&M got a run back in the sixth with a solo shot to left from Troy Stein that cut the Rebels’ lead to 6-3
The Aggies continued to chip away at the lead in the seventh with a two-out rally. With men at the corners, Nick Banks hit a chopper that bounced high off the dirt in front of the plate and landed in no-man’s land behind the mound. Ryne Birk scored from third on the play to cut the lead to 6-4 and Ole Miss turned to the bullpen for the second time in the inning as right-hander Aaron Greenwood relieved Jeremy Massie.
Greenwood would get a ground ball to first to end the inning and halt the Aggies’ rally.
Ole Miss added an insurance run in the ninth when back-to-back doubles from Anderson and Allen extended the lead to 7-4 with one out on the board. It was followed up three batters later when pinch hitter Colby Bortles knocked a line drive to left to score Allen and put the Rebels on top by four runs.
Greenwood then held the Aggies off the board in the home half of the ninth to grab the win for the Rebels.
The two teams will play game two of the weekend series at 7:03 p.m. on Friday night in a contest televised nationally by ESPNU.