REGIONAL: A Chance To Advance

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – They had to win game one to have a real chance to advance. Mission "one" accomplished for Ole Miss, the third seed here.

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The Rebels beat TCU 6-2 and now face top-seeded Texas A&M, the host, which defeated Dayton 4-1 Thursday night. That game's at 6:35 tonight.

That means the Rebels and the Aggies both are for sure playing on Sunday. It means the loser of TCU-Dayton at 12:35 p.m. today is headed home.

Growing up and helping out

There were some heroes in game one. Some were youthful, which bodes well for the future. And the present.

Four freshmen drove in four runs late to help the Rebels' cause. With the bases loaded in the eighth and the score at 2-2, freshman Auston Bousfield drew a full count walk to give Ole Miss its first lead of the game. Sikes Orvis followed it up with a two-RBI single up the middle.

Juniors Tanner Mathis and Alex Yarbrough and senior Zach Kirksey had all reached to load the bases with one out before the freshmen came up with the clutch plays to lift the Rebels into the lead.

Freshman catcher Austin Knight came up with the final RBI in the inning as Ole Miss plated four runs to grab the four-run lead.

"I didn't have a very good at-bat my first at-bat," said Orvis, 1-for-4 with those two important RBI. "I wanted to see more pitches, work the count, and have quality at-bats. I saw pitches to hit and we did what we did."

What they did was take advantage of some opportunities, at last, and also get the timely hit.

Hively, Knight celebrate game one win
Patrick Ochs

"We've got some of the best fastball hitters in the conference and maybe the country on our team," Yarbrough said. "I was telling myself when I hit the triple (to score the Rebels' first run of the game) I was going to hit the ball to left field no matter what. Good things will happen whenever you force yourself to take it the other way."

"Original" SEC vs. "New" SEC

Texas A&M head coach Rob Childress said his troops are looking forward to facing The University of Mississippi in a baseball game. The Aggies will be a regular on the Rebels' schedule beginning next season when they come to Oxford for a three-game series in conference play.

"It is going to be a great game," Childress said of the game tonight. "Coach (Mike) Bianco does an amazing job and has for years. They are battle tested. They have gone through 33 games in the SEC and there's nothing they haven't seen. They played very well today. They were down 2-0 and almost out of it. The starter for TCU did a nice job. It just took them a spark and just like that they ran past them. There is nothing you haven't seen if you go 33 games through the Southeastern Conference. It is going to be a great test."

Childress and the Aggies will send senior All-American RHP Ross Stripling (10-3, 2.90 ERA) to the mound.

Aggie first baseman Jacob House said it should be a great college baseball game and environment.

"It'll be good. I'm excited for it," he said. "They have been through it all. They have seen good pitching, and we are going to give them a good one (Saturday) night. It should be fun and a good atmosphere."

It should also be quite a bit of a different atmosphere for the Rebels from Thursday. It appeared there were perhaps as many as 400 Ole Miss fans in attendance for the game with TCU. And also a couple of thousand Texas A&M fans that watched the contest who seemed to be leaning the Rebels' way.

On a couple of occasions there were chants of "SEC!, SEC!, SEC!" that appeared to be a group effort by Rebels and Aggies.

That still could be the case Saturday night, but it won't be a unified cause. These two new "conference rivals" beginning July 1 won't be worried about league affiliation tonight. Only winning and advancing.

Can he go again or not?

Hively pitched two innings against the Horned Frogs and threw 27 pitches, facing seven batters with three strikeouts and one hit.

Hively had some arm soreness at the SEC Tournament. He said earlier this week he was much better. That appears to be the case. Can he go again, maybe as a starter, this weekend?

"I don't know," Bianco said. "I think he felt fine today. His stuff looked terrific. His fast ball was low 90s. His slider was 82-85. I think he was vintage R.J. So we'll see."

And that could be a real key to whether Ole Miss is able to win its third game here. And we know they'll play a third game since they won the first one.

So stay tuned. The College Station Regional continues with Mike Mayers (5-3, 3.52 ERA) on the mound tonight for the Ole Miss Rebels.

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