Game #50: no. 6 Texas A&M 10, Ole Miss 5
Records: Texas A&M (34-16, 18-10), Ole Miss (31-20, 13-15)
WP: Joseph Menefee (5-2)
LP: Dylan DeLucia (5-1)
Save: Will Johnston (3)
The shift and shots lifted No. 6 Texas A&M to a contentious 10-5 Southeastern Conference baseball victory over Ole Miss in Oxford on Thursday night.
Dylan Rock belted a pair of home runs, Jack Moss added a solo blast and Will Johnston provided clutch relief pitching to boost the Aggies (34-16, 18-10) to their seventh win in its last eight games.
“I’m really proud of the way the guys battled,” Texas A&M head coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “The two home runs late, huge.”
The Aggies also remained tied for first place in the West Division race with Arkansas, which defeated Alabama, 7-3.
“We were just up there competing. We were putting good swings on balls, driving them, getting guys across the plate. Simple.”
– A&M left fielder Dylan Rock
“Keep playing baseball,” Schlossnagle said. “We’re still playing for a lot, but you can’t be thinking about external things. You just have to be thinking about winning pitches and playing the game one day at a time.”
A&M’s victory did not come easily. There was much more drama than the five-run margin would suggest.
The Aggies held a precarious 8-5 lead in the bottom of the eighth. Ole Miss (31-20, 13-15) had two on with two out.
“Even though we were winning the game, it didn’t feel like we were in control of the game because we didn’t throw enough strikes,” Schlossangle said. “We walked them eight or nine times, so we’re going to have to be better.”
Schlossnagle called on the left-handed Johnston, the Aggies’ third pitcher of the inning, to face left-handed hitting Jacob Gonzalez.
Gonzalez hit a line drive right at second baseman Ryan Targac, who was playing the shift in shallow right field.
Moss and Rock then hit back-to-back home runs in the top of the ninth off John Gaddis, the fourth of five Ole Miss pitchers to provide the final margin.
“We were just up there competing,” Rock said. “We were putting good swings on balls, driving them, getting guys across the plate. Simple.”
However, the blasts weren’t nearly as dramatic as Rock’s home run trot.
Ole Miss second baseman Peyton Chatagnier took exception to something Rock did or said and charged the A&M left fielder as Rock rounded second base.
Jamie Maury, TexAgs
A pitch behind Austin Bost in the ninth inning lead to some dramatics as pitcher John Gaddis and head coach Mike Bianco were both ejected.
That situation was quickly defused. But Gaddis intentionally threw behind A&M’s Austin Bost with the next pitch. Gaddis was immediately ejected along with Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco.
Johnston allowed just one hit in the ninth to earn his third save.
Early on the Aggies appeared on their way to an easy victory.
Rock hit a two-run home run and Troy Claunch had an RBI single in a three-run first inning off Ole Miss starter Dylan DeLucia (5-1).
The Aggies parlayed four walks, two errors and a single into four runs in the second as they took a 7-0 lead.
“Obviously, that was great for us to get off to a great start in that first inning,” Schlossnagle said. “We needed it. We didn’t score there for a while.”
But the A&M bats went dormant for the next five innings and the pitching began to struggle.
Ole Miss scored three runs in the second inning and added another in the fourth to chase A&M starter, Nathan Dettmer.
Joseph Menefee (5-2) came on to strike out Tim Elko to end the threat and eventually earn the victory.
Ole Miss kept the pressure on and pulled within 7-5 in the sixth.
“(Mason) Nichols, the kid that came in there did a great job for them,” Schlossnagle said. “Unfortunately, we gave up those three two-out runs to let them back in the game.”
“We’re still playing for a lot, but you can’t be thinking about external things. You just have to be thinking about winning pitches and playing the game one day at a time.”
– A&M head coach Jim Schlossnagle
A&M finally answered with a Jordan Thompson sacrifice fly to plate Bost in the top of the eighth.
But the Aggies could not relax until Targac made his catch in the shift and Moss and Rock hit their ninth-inning shots.
“We’re going to get after whoever we’re on the field with,” Moss said. “It doesn’t matter if we’re at home, on the road or wherever. It’s the same mindset every game. We treat every game the same, and we’re going to continue that going forward.”
A&M’s series with Ole Miss resumes Friday night at Swayze Field in Oxford. First pitch is set for 7 pm