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TCU downs Ole Miss to force Monday's Championship Game

 

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – In their previous two games, TCU had scored a combined 38 runs. They used that confidence as they came away with a 5-2 win over Ole Miss (37-25) on Sunday night in front of a crowd of 3.425 at Blue Bell Park to force a win or go home contest on Monday.

“TCU just played better than we did tonight,” head coach Mike Bianco said. “That’s the bottom line. They pitched better, they hit better, they fielded better. When you get to this point, you’re not going to sneak away three. You’ve got to win the baseball game.”

Ole Miss got an early lead in the first with an RBI single by senior first baseman Matt Snyder to score junior left fielder Tanner Mathis, who reached on a walk, but the lead wouldn’t last long.

TCU took the lead in the fourth with a two-run home run from second baseman Derek Odell. The Horned Frogs extended the lead to 3-1 in the fifth with a sacrifice fly off the bat of centerfielder Kyle Von Tungeln.

The Rebels spoiled an opportunity in the bottom half of the fifth. Freshman centerfielder Auston Bousfield fouled out with the bases loaded, but it wasn’t an easy catch. TCU first baseman Kevin Cron caught it in the camera well beyond the Horned Frogs dugout.

For the third inning in a row, TCU scored to extend their lead. In the sixth, a RBI single from designated hitter Josh Gonzales did the trick to make it a 4-1 ball game.

Senior right-hander R.J. Hively got the start for Ole Miss after closing out the first two games of the Regional, and TCU made him pay when he ran out of gas. Hively went 5.2 innings giving up four runs on five hits to go along with six strikeouts.

“Hively was a warrior just like we thought he would be,” Bianco said. “What a gutsy performance. We have to help him a little more than we did.”

Ole Miss answered with a run of their own in the bottom of the sixth. Junior designated hitter John Gatlin got an RBI single into centerfield to score junior second baseman Alex Yarbrough, but Gatlin was thrown out at second trying for a double, which limited the damage.

TCU responded with another run in the seventh. The leadoff man got on before an error on Yarbrough, just his third of the season, that would’ve been an easy double play ball had the Horned Frogs in action. TCU loaded the bases with no outs in the inning, but sophomore right-hander Aaron Greenwood, who came in to replace Hively limited to the damage to a single run on a sacrifice fly from Cron.

Greenwood pitched the final 3.1 innings for the Rebels giving up one unearned run on three hits.

The eighth inning finally saw Ole Miss get TCU starting left-hander Brandon Finnegan out of the game following a one-out single from Snyder. Right-hander Justin Scharf came in and shut down the Rebel offense to complete the 5-2 win for the Horned Frogs.

“We couldn’t catch up to the fastball,” Bianco said of Finnegan’s performance. “I don’t know if it was sneaky fast, but we chased some balls up and he dumped enough breaking balls in there to keep us off balance.”

Ole Miss will attempt to bounce back in Monday’s Regional finale at 6:35 p.m.           

Bianco did not name a starter for Monday’s contest, but he said sophomore right-hander Bobby Wahl will see action. The Rebel head man also noted sophomore-right hander Mike Mayers will also be a possibility. He listed everyone outside of Hively as possible contributors on the mound.

Monday’s game can be seen on ESPN3.com.