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End of the Road

PATRIC SCHNEIDER | Associated Press
PATRIC SCHNEIDER | Associated Press

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Ole Miss struggled a lot this season, and most of those struggles came from a lack of scoring runs. The Rebels answered those problems Friday and Saturday, with wins over TCU and Texas A&M, to advance to the Regional Championship of the College Station Regional.

However, they went back to their old ways as TCU (40-20) came through the loser’s bracket to defeat the Rebels on Sunday and again on Monday night, by the score of 7-3, in front of a crowd of 3,579 at Blue Bell Park to end the Rebels’ season.

“As a coach, you’re never prepared for this moment,” head coach Mike Bianco said. “Specifically about the ball game, they just played better than we did. We showed a lot of guts. Bobby (Wahl) and Mike (Mayers) on very short rest came out and pitched their hearts out.

“But TCU was just a better club today and yesterday. They came out after losing the first day, and I would say found themselves, especially offensively.”

For the second straight night, Ole Miss (37-26) got on the board in the first with a run. Senior first baseman Matt Snyder brought junior right fielder Tanner Mathis home, but that may have been a bad thing.

In the Rebels’ two wins, the opposing team scored first, and in their two loses, it was Ole Miss who grabbed an early lead.

Sophomore right-hander Bobby Wahl got the start on two days rest, and he gave it all he could. The Springfield, Va., native allowed four runs on four hits in 4.1 innings of work while recording five strikeouts.

“I just wanted to come out here and give my team the best chance to win,” Wahl said. “I didn’t do a great job of that tonight, and I just had to battle. We played our hearts out tonight. I left everything I had out there. It just wasn’t enough tonight.”

Ole Miss had plenty of opportunities to score more runs and extend their lead, but they couldn’t get the big hit. TCU’s right-hander Justin Scharf came in to pitch in the fifth inning, and he shut down the Rebel offense. Scharf gave up just one run on four hits in 4.2 on the mound.

“It was tough,” junior second baseman Alex Yarbrough said. “We were trying to preach to get the barrel out. I think we were all making a conscious effort to do that, but from the angle he’s throwing it from, it’s tough to pick up where the ball is going to be.”

TCU took the lead with a pair of solo home runs by junior catcher Josh Elander and junior third baseman Jantzen Witte, but Ole Miss answered with a couple of runs in the fifth to take the lead back.

Then, the Horned Frogs scored two more runs to take a 4-3 lead that they would not relinquish. TCU added one more run in the sixth and two in the seventh off sophomore right-hander Mike Mayers, who came in for Wahl, to get a commanding 7-3 lead.

Mayers pitched 2.0 innings giving up three runs, one earned, off two hits. Junior right-hander Tanner Bailey was the third Rebel pitcher used on the night and went the final 1.2 innings giving up three hits.

Ole Miss tried to rally in the ninth, getting the first two men aboard before Mathis got an RBI single to left field with one out to cut the deficit to 7-4 with runners on first and third. However, Yarbrough ended the game with a sharply hit ball to second that TCU turned into a double play.

Mathis and junior third baseman Andrew Mistone were named to the All-Regional team.

Last days as a Rebel

If winning a regional wasn’t enough to think about, Yarbrough’s Ole Miss career could be over. The Allen, Texas, native is projected to be a high draft pick in the Major League Baseball Draft that began last night.

It is still unknown if Yarbrough will come back to Oxford for his senior campaign, but where he lands in the draft could answer a lot of questions. Nevertheless, the draft was the last thing on Yarbrough’s mind this weekend.

“I was trying to focus on each inning, each game,” Yarbrough said. “We came out and got these first two wins, and I think if you ask anybody after those first two games, we were 100 percent sure we were going to a Super Regional.

“That was really exciting, but I couldn’t be prouder of the way we competed. It was just a tough break tonight.”