OXFORD, Miss. (WCBI/Ole Miss Athletics) – The Rebel bats warmed up late on Saturday as No. 14 Ole Miss (2-0) put together a four-run rally in the eighth inning to come from behind and clinch the weekend series with a 5-2 win over No. 12 TCU (0-2) at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field.
With the Rebels trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the eighth, senior outfielder Tanner Mathis sparked a two-out rally that allowed Ole Miss to take the lead on the way to the series clinching win.
Mathis delivered a single up the middle to drive in Will Jamison from second base and tie the game at two and get things started for the Rebels. Mathis then stole second and took third on a wild pitch to Austin Anderson who drew a walk later in that at bat to put runners at the corners.
Austin Bousfield then delivered a chop-single over the head of TCU first baseman Kevin Cron to push Mathis home and send Anderson to third with the Rebels up 3-2. Bousfield stole second to put two men in scoring position for Will Allen, who singled to second and drove in Anderson. Bousfield advanced to third and scored on the play as the Horned Frog second baseman dropped the ball to allow the fourth run in the inning to score.
With the Rebels up 5-2, Ole Miss then turned to Brett Huber who picked up his second save in as many days as he closed out the ninth inning.
Rebel reliever Aaron Greenwood (1-0) picked up the win, working 3.1 innings in relief of starter Mike Mayers. Greenwood struck out four and walked one while holding TCU to one hit in his time on the mound.
TCU reliever Justin Scharf suffered the loss, allowing the go-ahead run (his only of the game) on one hit in 0.2 innings of work. Starter Preston Morrison worked 7.0 innings, allowing two runs on two hits with two walks and nine strikeouts.
“It was another very well pitched game,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “Preston Morrison gave us fits. We knew how good he was, from facing him twice in the regional last year. It’s mystifying when you stand from the side and watch it. His command is so good with three different pitches. We just looked very uncomfortable at the plate all day long. Mike (Mayers) obviously didn’t have his best day out there command wise. It was a tough day to play baseball, in these temperatures and the win. Mike really gutted it out.
“They put three hits together in one inning,” Bianco said. “There haven’t been a lot of hits over the past two days. They had a great at bat by (Derek) Odell to get the big RBIs. Aaron Greenwood looked tremendous. He looked like he made them feel a little uncomfortable. He mixed three pitches in there and was able to work both sides of the plate. In the eighth inning, we had a great at bat by (Andrew) Mistone, a huge at bat by Tanner Mathis and then the big stolen base. The crowd really got into it. The people who were here were very loud in the eighth.”
In a replay of the series opener, neither team got much offense going early as the Rebels got only one base runner off Morrison through the first four innings and TCU got three walks but only one hit off Ole Miss’ Mayers.
The Horned Frogs scored their first runs of the weekend in the fifth inning, loading the bases with two outs on back-to-back singles from Keaton Jones and Daniel Bacack before Cody Jones would draw a walk. Derek Odell then delivered a two-RBI single through the right side to put TCU on top 2-0.
Ole Miss answered in the bottom of the fifth, pushing one run across the plate when Jamison delivered an RBI single to right center to score Stuart Turner from second and cut the lead in half at 2-1. Turner reached on a walk to open the inning and advanced to second on a groundout from Andrew Mistone to get into scoring position for Jamison.
TCU then retired the next seven batters before Ole Miss put together the eighth inning rally to claim the win.
The two teams will conclude the series at noon on Sunday at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field.