° empty

Late stumble costs Rebels vs. Aggies

Published 11:57 pm Saturday, May 17, 2014

Ole Miss had the SEC West championship and a first-round bye in the league tournament securely in its hip pocket Saturday. That, at least, meant only its pride took a hit when it went through an eighth-inning meltdown that cost it a win in the regular-season finale.

Texas A&M took advantage of two errors, a wild pitch on an intentional walk, and a bases-loaded walk to score four runs and went on to beat the Rebels 9-6.

Ole Miss (40-16, 19-11 Southeastern Conference) had already locked up the division title and the No. 2 seed in the SEC Tournament that starts Tuesday in Hoover, Ala. Even so, the eighth inning was a bit unsettling for coach Mike Bianco.

“That was uncharacteristic of us today,” Bianco said. “You have to credit Texas A&M for keeping the pressure on us, though. You can’t win in this league if you’re going to make four errors in a game, especially if the other team isn’t going to make errors.”

The first-round bye will allow Ole Miss to skip Tuesday’s single-elimination round. It’ll play Wednesday at 1 p.m. against either Arkansas or Texas A&M as the double-elimination portion of the tournament gets underway.

Texas A&M (33-23, 14-16) will face Arkansas in an elimination game Tuesday, with the winner advancing to play Ole Miss.

Texas A&M built a 5-1 lead through five innings, but Ole Miss scored four times in the sixth and once more in the seventh to take the lead.

Austin Anderson had an RBI double and J.B. Woodman tied it at 5 with a two-run triple. In the seventh, Auston Bousfield gave the Rebels a 6-5 lead with an RBI groundout.

Things got away from the Rebels in the eighth, however.

A walk and a single to center started things off, then a throwing error on the single put both runners in scoring position. A fielder’s choice cut down one runner at the plate, but left runners at second and third.

Ole Miss elected to intentionally walk Cole Lankford to set up the double play, but a wild pitch on the fourth ball allowed the base runners to advance and Texas A&M to tie the game.

Another throwing error on a grounder brought in the go-ahead run. The Rebels issued another intentional walk — cleanly, this time — but Jeremy Massie walked in a run with the bases loaded and Blake Allemand’s sacrifice fly put the Aggies ahead 9-6.

“If you aren’t going to play defense, then you have to be flawless on the mound and we weren’t today,” Bianco said. “It’s disappointing because we had a shot to win it with the lead there in the eighth and six outs to go. The game just unraveled for us.”

Ole Miss got the tying run to the plate in the ninth inning, but A&M pitcher A.J. Minter retired the side after that to finish the game.

Minter (2-0) pitched the last two innings for the win. Massie (4-3) allowed three runs, only one of them earned, in three innings and took the loss.

Krey Bratsen went 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles and two RBIs for Texas A&M, and Troy Stein was 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Bousfield and Woodman drove in two runs apiece for Ole Miss.

“You should celebrate every win in the Southeastern Conference. None of them are easy. There are no easy wins in this league. Every win that every team has gotten, all 14 teams, they are a challenge and there are no easy ones,” Texas A&M coach Rob Childress said.