Last night, Brandon Finnegan’s fastball was simply electric. The freshman gave his team 7.1 inning of 2-run baseball, allowing 6 hits and 3 walks while striking out 7. His biggest feat of the night was not his ability to shut the Rebels down, but his ability to escape.
For the first time this tournament, Ole Miss grabbed the lead first. Matt Snyder drove in Tanner Mathis with a 2-out single in the opening frame to make it 1-0. That lead eviscerated in the 4th inning when Derek Odell hit a 2-run homer off R.J. Hively with 2 outs. A double, sacrifice bunt, and sacrifice fly the next inning extended the Frog lead to 3-1.
In the bottom of the 5th, Andrew Mistone, Jake Overbey, and Mathis all reached base with 2-outs, bringing Auston Bousfield to the plate with a big opportunity. The freshman had an RBI in each of the first two games, but popped out into foul ground to end the inning. After another TCU run in the top of the 6th, Ole Miss had a rally brewing in the bottom half. Alex Yarbrough led off the inning with a walk, followed by an infield-single by Matt Snyder. In complete Bianco-ball fashion, the 5-hitter Will Allen promptly bunted the two runners over. With one out and two in scoring position, John Gatlin lined one to right. The hit scored Yarbrough and moved Snyder to third. Unfortunately, Gatlin was sent to second base where he was toasted, making him the second out of the inning. This blunder made a flyout by Mistone which would have plated Snyder to make it a 4-3 game, merely the third out.
That was the last real threat that the Rebels had all night as TCU added a meaningless run in the top of the 7th. Hively was given the loss after pitching 5.2 innings, allowing 5 hits, 4 runs, and 2 walks while striking out 6. Finnegan got the win for TCU and redeemed himself for his abysmal outing against Ole Miss on Friday. It will be interesting to see whether or not Bianco will return to the Mathis-Yarbrough-Snyder-Kirksey lineup that worked in the first few games. The other big decision that looms for #5 today is whom to start for the deciding game. Should he take a page out of the old playbook and start his ace like he did with Pomeranz against Western Kentucky in 2009 or should he throw one of the freshmen and hope for the best. Wahl would be the obvious choice if his arm is good to go, but he threw well over 100 pitches 3 days ago, something to be concerned about. TCU faces the same decision as they have thrown every starter they have that has made more than 3 starts this season. The Rebs could very well face Preston Morrison again, or they could be looking at the promising opportunity of Trey Teakell or Nick Frey going tonight. Game time is set for 6:35 tonight to see who will travel to Los Angeles this weekend to face #2 UCLA.
Notes: 4 SEC teams have advanced to the Super Regionals (Arkansas, Florida, LSU, South Carolina), 2 have been eliminated (Kentucky and Mississippi State), and 2 will play today (Ole Miss and Vanderbilt)…Of the 11 teams already in the Super Regionals, 8 are #1 seeds, 1 is a #2 seed, and 2 are #3 seeds (Kent State and St. John’s)…Only 4 of the 16 #3 seeds are still alive (Kent State, St. John’s, Appalachian State, and Ole Miss) compared to 10 #1 seeds, 6 #2 seeds, and 1 #4 seed.