OXFORD, Mississippi – The No. 19 Texas A&M Aggies were doomed by Ole Miss’s four-run eighth inning as the Maroon and White dropped a 6-4 decision to the Rebels Saturday evening at Swayze Field.
The loss evened the series at 1-1 with Sunday’s rubber match slated for 12:02 pm.
Trailing 4-2, Ole Miss (30-21, 12-15) got their first two runners aboard in the eight with Nick Fortes and Ryan Olenek each driving singles to the right side off reliever John Doxakis to put runners on the corners. The Aggies appeared to have caught Olenek wandering off first base, but Joel Davis’ throw to second caused shortstop Austin Homan to miss the tag as Olenek slid into the back. With two runners in scoring position, Tim Rowe bounced a ball to short, but a fielding error by Homan allowed both runners to score, knitting the game at 4-4.
Cason Sherrod entered the contest and retired the first two batters he faced, but Grae Kessinger drove a 2-2 offering into the left-center gap for knock in the go-ahead run. Two batters later, Will Golsan knocked in Kessinger with a single up the middle to stretch the lead to 6-4.
With one out in the ninth, Nick Choruby singled to bring the tying run to the plate, but the Maroon and White were unable to muster a rally.
Choruby manufactured a run in the top of the first inning. The senior was issued a base on balls to start the frame, moved to second on a wild pitch, advanced to third on Logan Foster’s fly out to deep rightfield and scored on Braden Shewmake’s groundout to the shortstop.
Ole Miss responded with a run in the home half of the first. Tate Blackman started the frame by singling the middle off the glove of Aggie shortstop Austin Homan. He moved to second on a groundout by Golsan and after Cody Bortles swung and missed at strike three for the second out of the frame, Fortes golfed a single into centerfield to score Blackman with the equalizer.
Texas A&M reclaimed the lead with two runs in the top of the fourth. With two outs, Cole Bedford drew a five-pitch walk and Baine Schoenvogel gapped a double to left-center to put two runners in scoring position. Walker Pennington bounced a single to plate both runners to stake the Aggies to a 3-1 advantage.
The Rebels shaved a run off the gap in the home half of the fourth. With one out, Bryan Seamster reached on a walk, moved to second on a wild pitch and stole third base, but he was replaced on the base paths by Cooper Johnson, whose grounder to George Janca at third set up a play at plate. Despite the good fortune, the Aggies were unable to leave the frame unscathed as Kessinger was issued a walk to move Johnson to second and Blackman followed with a single through the left side to cut the margin to 3-2.
The Aggies tacked on an insurance run in the seventh. Janca started the inning with a wall-banger to rightfield to start the inning. With one out, Blake Kopetsky delivered a pinch-hit single to knock in Janca for the 4-2 lead. Texas A&M was threatening for more when Shewmake doubled to dead centerfield, but Kopetsky was cut down at the plate and Joel Davis struck out looking to end the frame.
Both starting pitchers were left out of the final decision. The Aggies’ Corbin Martin worked 6.0 innings, yielding two runs on four hits and four walks while striking out six. Ole Miss’s Ryan Rolison allowed three runs on four hits and three walks while striking out five in 4.2 innings.
Doxakis (2-3) was saddled with the loss for Texas A&M. He allowed three runs, one earned, on two hits and one walk while striking out two in 1.0 innings.
Will Ethridge (2-2) picked up the win in relief, scattering three hits while striking out three in 1.2 innings. Dallas Woolfolk earned his 11th save of the season, allowing one hit while striking out two in a scoreless ninth.
A day after hitting two home runs, Shewmake batted 2-for-5 with two doubles and an RBI. Janca hit 2-for-4 with one double and one run.
Blackman and Fortes each had two hits for Ole Miss.