Game #52: No. 6 Texas A&M 12, Ole Miss 5
Recordings: Texas A&M (35-17, 19-11), Ole Miss (32-21, 14-16)
WP: Joseph Menefée (6-2)
LP: Drew McDaniel (5-3)
The score of the box
A fourth-inning blowout and four-inning disruption propelled No. 6 Texas A&M (35-17, 19-11) to a 12-5 Southeastern Conference baseball win over No. 20 Ole Miss (32-21, 14-16) on Saturday afternoon in Oxford.
Dylan Rock hit a three-run homer and Brett Minnich threw a grand slam in a seven-run fourth inning to quickly erase a 5-2 deficit.
Additionally, Joseph Menefee (6-2) pitched four sterling relief innings to frustrate Ole Miss, who had beaten A&M 14-6 on Friday night.
With the comeback win, A&M clinched first place in the SEC Western Division and will also be seeded two in next week’s SEC Postseason Tournament.
“I had to take one on my chin yesterday and kind of wear it. For the most part, it’s been kind of a year-round formula. We need to change this formula because you need to win more than two games in a weekend.
– A&M Head Coach Jim Schlossnagle
“A little more of the same,” Texas A&M head coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “I had to take one on my chin yesterday and kind of wear it. For the most part, it’s been kind of a year-round formula. We need to change this formula because you need to win more than two games in a weekend.
A&M, which was a preseason pick to finish 13th in the SEC, had already clinched both seeds thanks to Alabama’s 18-5 win over Arkansas early Saturday afternoon.
The Aggies held a tiebreaker against Arkansas (18-12) taking two of three in a previous series. However, they made it clear that they didn’t need – and perhaps didn’t want – help from Alabama.
Overall, A&M hit four homers, 13 hits and hit six on five Ole Miss pitchers to win the weekend series. It was the Aggies’ seventh straight win.
Jack Moss delivered a single to Trevor Werner, who started the match with a triple. The Aggies added another run on a Troy Claunch RBI in the second.
But solo home runs from Hayden Dunhurst and Jacob Gonzalez and a three-run shot from Peyton Chatagnier gave Ole Miss a 5-2 lead after three innings.
This was a short track.
Ironically, A&M’s fourth-round surge began with Kole Kaler’s one-out brake. Werner followed with a brace to put two runners in scoring position.
Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco responded by replacing starting pitcher Derek Diamond, who had already thrown 68 pitches, with Drew McDaniel (5-3).
McDaniel eliminated Moss, but then faced Rock, who had drawn derision from Ole Miss fans throughout the series. Rock threw a 2-2 pitch on the center field wall to forge a 5-5 tie.
Jamie Maury, TexAgs
Dylan Rock’s three-point outburst marked his 16th team-leading bombshell of the season.
Obviously, in Rock’s shock, McDaniel gave up a single to Austin Bost and backed Ryan Targac and Claunch.
Minnich then hit a towering fly ball that sailed over the left field fence for an 11-5 A&M lead.
“Dylan had a great batting,” Schlossnagle said. “A lot of times you close the inning with two outs. We had more guys on base and Brett had just enough. It’s probably not a home run in too many ballparks. But we played in the conditions and we did well.
Menefee made sure the rebels wouldn’t mount a comeback.
He replaced starter Ryan Prager in the third with two and a full count for Hayden Dunhurst. Menefee hit Dunhurst, but then gave up Chatagnieri’s home run.
However, Menefee was brilliant afterwards. He allowed just three hits, walked one and struck out six.
Menefee eventually gave way to Jacob Palisch with an out and an over in the seventh. Palisch quickly got Ole Miss power hitter Tim Elko into a double play.
Palisch was substituted two out and one over in the eighth by Robert Hogan. Hogan forced a withdrawal from Chatagnier to end the inning.
“Super proud of our guys today…the guys who pitched today against such an impressive roster,” Schlossnagle said. “With the wind blowing, every swing feels like a threat to walk out of the stadium.
“I think we made some really great games. Moo (Menefee) comes in on a 3-2 count to get a strikeout. Two big balls in double play were great.
“Guys kept playing, kept believing, bought into a system, bought into a culture. I hope we’re not done yet. We have a lot more baseball to play.
– A&M Head Coach Jim Schlossnagle
Ole Miss’s waning hopes for a dramatic comeback faded early in the ninth. Ryan Targac hit a two-run homer and Jordan Thompson added a solo shot to take a 12-5 lead.
Reliever Will Johnston came on and sat the Rebels down in order in the bottom of the ninth to wrap up the win.
It also capped a remarkable regular season resurgence.
A&M struggled at first. The Aggies lost a series in February to Penn and entered SEC play with a modest 10-6 record. They also had to overcome key injuries.
Their turnaround was simply amazing.
“Guys kept playing, kept believing, bought into a system, bought into a culture,” Schlossnagle said.
“I hope we’re not done yet. We have a lot more baseball to play.
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