Rebels drop game two; series goes to third game

Ole Miss, 48-19, and Texas, 50-16, play Monday at 6 p.m. The winner moves on to the College World Series. The loser's season is over.

Ole Miss and Texas each had their chances in game two, and it was the Longhorns who took advantage of theirs the most. As a matter of fact, Ole Miss almost didn't do so at all.

The Rebels left 14 men on base in a 3-1 loss to even the series at one game each. Ole Miss outhit the Longhorns 9 to 7, but Texas only left seven on base. In the end it's now down to one contest Monday night at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field to decide who goes to Omaha.

"We live to play another day," said Texas head coach Augie Garrido after game two. It was certainly a different mood for the Longhorn coach than the end of the first game earlier. The Rebels won that game 6-4, a contest which went three innings Saturday night, was suspended because of rain, and restarted just after noon Sunday.

Ole Miss had come back from a 4-2 deficit in the first game with four runs in the seventh inning off one of the nation's best relievers in J. Brent Cox.

With the Longhorns leading game two 3-1 heading into the ninth, Garrido ran Cox back out there to finish it off for his team. After Chris Coghlan lined out, Brian Pettway walked, Stephen Head singled, and Alex Presley singled to load the bases. But Cooper Osteen grounded out to the second baseman for a double play, a ball that almost got through and most likely would have tied the game.

But Cox, who failed in game one, succeeded in game two, and the Horns, as Garrido said, lived to play another day.

"I really had to think long and hard about putting him back out there," Garrido said of Cox, named the nation's top college stopper by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association just last week. "He was devastated from the first game. It was risky because if he loses this one, then what? I took the risk because of his strength and character."

"I just wanted to throw a double play ball," said Cox, with 15 saves this season. "I just wanted to throw strikes. The positioning (of our infielders) paid off. I threw a slider and he hit into a double play. Luckily the baseball gods were with us on that one."

For Ole Miss it was a different story. The Rebels began leaving people on base early and it plagued them throughout the game. Two on in the first, two on in the second, two on in the third - and on the game went until 14 Rebels were left stranded. The lone Ole Miss run came in the seventh when Mark Wright doubled with two outs to score Coghlan who had reached on a base hit and advanced to third on a single by Head.

At that point Texas pulled starter Adrian Alaniz and brought in reliever Buck Cody who went an inning and a third before giving way to Cox. Cody got Osteen to ground out to end the seventh, and then allowed only one base runner, on a single from pinch hitter C.J. Ketchum, to reach in the eighth with no damage. That's when Cox came in. The Rebels almost got to him again, but not quite as they had done in game one.

"We're disappointed but it was another great effort from our guys," Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said. "We couldn't get the big hit. We had runners in scoring position and couldn't get that big hit to get the lead. They were able to get the timely hits. That was the difference."

Maloney, now 8-3 with the loss, pitched through seven innings and one batter. After Carson Kainer singled, Tommy Baumgardner relieved Maloney and went the rest of the way. Maloney's final line read seven innings (plus one batter), seven hits, two earned runs, seven strikeouts and no walks. Baumgardner got the Longhorns out in the eighth with no damage.

Monday's championship game with the winner advancing to the College World Series begins at 6 p.m. CT and is to be shown live on ESPN2.

Ole Miss will start usual third-game starter junior LHP Eric Fowler (7-2, 3.09 ERA), while Texas will start either freshman 6-foot-10 righthander Kenn Kasparek (7-0, 1.95) or the starter in game one of this series - RHP Kyle McCulloch (10-4, 2.99).

Bianco said every Ole Miss arm is available for the Monday game - even first-game starter Mark Holliman - except Maloney.

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