Baseball season is only two games old, but the excitement level is already in midseason form.
By: Jeff Roberson, OMSpirit.com
Friday night it was a 1-0 victory for the Rebels that wasn’t decided until a double play call by the umpire on runner’s interference by a Horned Frog. Saturday the Rebels rallied from a 2-1 deficit after five innings to score four runs in the eighth, and then called on Brett Huber – for the second day in a row – to save it.
“I thought it was another very well pitched game by two clubs that can really pitch,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco.
Preston Morrison, the TCU starter, went seven innings and allowed just two runs on two hits with two walks and nine strikeouts.
“We knew how good Morrison was from the Regional last year,” Bianco said. “We faced him twice. His command’s so good with three different pitches. We looked very uncomfortable at the plate all day long.”
Rebel starter Mike Mayers went 4.2 innings allowing two runs on four hits with four walks and three strikeouts.
“For Mike, obviously it wasn’t his best day command-wise,” Bianco said. “It’s tough to play baseball in these temperatures and with the wind, but Mike really gutted it out. They did a good job in one inning with three hits (and two runs).”
Aaron Greenwood, who got the win, did what first-in reliever Tanner Bailey had done the night before, and that’s keep things right where they were. The junior righty went 3.1 innings and gave up no runs on one hit with a walk and four strikeouts.
“Greenwood looked tremendous and made them look like they felt a little uncomfortable out there,” Bianco said.
In the bottom of the eighth with his team down 2-1, Andrew Mistone walked to get something started for the Rebels – and to end things for Morrison. Entering the game was Justin Scharf, a sidearm throwing righty, who eventually got the loss.
Will Jamison bunted right out in front of the plate, and Mistone was thrown out at second base by the catcher. With Jamison at first, up next was Holt Perdzock, who pinch hit for second baseman Lance Wilson. Perdzock got Jamison to second on a groundout.
With two outs, Tanner Mathis was up and his RBI single scored Jamison to tie the game 2-2. Mathis then stole second, and ignited the crowd with some enthusiastic gestures as the Horned Frogs attempted to slow things down a bit.
TCU bought in Andrew Mitchell to relieve Scharf with Mathis on second and two outs. The first pitch from Mitchell was wild and got Mathis to third. Then more enthusiasm from the senior Mathis as he knew this was rally time for his team.
Austin Anderson walked and that put runners at the corners. Auston Bousfield was at the plate, and the sophomore center fielder singled to score Mathis and give the Rebels the lead for the first time in the game.
Will Allen then dribbled one through the infield that nobody could get to, and two more runs scored for a 5-2 UM lead.
A Sikes Orvis pop up to the catcher ended the inning, and the visiting team from Ft. Worth had just three outs to work with.
That’s when Huber came in to close it out. Although the Horned Frogs made a run of it and actually loaded the bases with two outs, Huber was able to finish and pick up the growing school-record 28th save of his college career.
“The crowd was really into it,” Bianco said, mentioning the moment in the game when Mathis was encouraging them to do so. “The people who were here were very loud in the eighth.”
Bianco said a come-from-behind win was big for this team.
“You’re going to have to win all kinds,” he said. “Last year’s club had issues in that they hardly ever came from behind to win. If we got behind, it was very hard for us to win the game. To be able to do it in the second game of the year against a very good club has got to make you feel good.”
Game three of the series is set for 12 noon Sunday. Ole Miss’ Chris Ellis will start on the mound.
“He’s ready and excited,” Bianco said of the sophomore right-hander. “He sat with me today, like the pitchers that are going to pitch the next day always do. He’s seen their lineup and we talked about their hitters. We’re excited for his first (2013) start.”