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Seven-Run Fourth Inning Powers Aggies Past Rebels In Regular-Season Finale

Seven-Run Fourth Inning Powers Aggies Past Rebels In Regular-Season Finale

OXFORD, Miss. – Seven runs in the fourth inning, capped off by a Brett Minnich grand slam, gave No. 6 Texas A&M (35-17, 19-11 SEC) all they would need on the way to a 12-5 win over Ole Miss in the regular season finale.

The victory gave the Aggies the series win and clinched first place outright in the SEC West.

Honoring the Seniors 

Before the game got underway, Ole Miss recognized seniors Tim Elko, Ben Van Cleve, Hayden Leatherwood, John Gaddis and Max Cioffi.

All of these seniors are loved by the Ole Miss fan base, but perhaps none have made a bigger impact than “The Captain,” Tim Elko. Public address announcer Glen Waddle couldn’t help but get choked up at the end of Elko’s presentation as he remembered the impact the Rebel legend has had throughout his time in Oxford.

Elko was asked what that moment meant to him.

I was trying to hold back the tears a little bit. This place has been so special to me for five years. All the people that have touched my life here, all those emotions ran into that one moment. Just so thankful for everything that I’ve been able to feel here in Oxford and play in the best college atmosphere in baseball with such amazing teammates and coaches and I’m just grateful, I’ve been so blessed.

Tim Elko on his final game at Swayze

Ready to Rumble

After the tears had (mostly) dried, it was time to get underway. And for the third consecutive game, the Aggies would strike first.

After a leadoff triple by Trevor Werner, Jack Moss followed with an RBI single to give A&M a 1-0 lead. The Aggies would get two more runners into scoring position in the inning but Diamond would escape the jam and leave them stranded.

The Rebels would respond by putting two men on base in the home half, but a fly out by Kemp Alderman following a very questionable strike call would end the threat.

Hayden Strikes Again 

After Diamond pitched a scoreless top of the second, Hayden Dunhurst led off the home half with a blast to right center and kept his hot streak going.

The blast was Dunhurst’s sixth hit of the weekend and moved his average all the way to .264 after he came into the weekend hitting just .229.

Defense Shines

The defense behind Diamond was a big part of the third. Justin Bench robbed a leadoff double with a snag on a hard-hit liner towards third. But Kevin Graham would make the biggest play of the inning, laying out to rob Austin Bost of a base hit.

Unfortunately, Diamond hurt his cause by hitting Ryan Targac on a 1-2 pitch with two outs. Austin Bost would immediately make him pay for it by knocking an RBI single into right to give the Aggies a 2-1 lead. But Jacob Gonzalez answered with a leadoff solo homer in the bottom half, his 16th of the season, to tie the game up at two.

After Hayden Dunhurst worked a 3-2 count, the Aggies would replace starter Ryan Prager with Joseph Menefee. Menefee would get Dunhurst to go down swinging, but didn’t have the same luck with Peyton Chatagnier, who blasted a three-run bomb to left to give Ole Miss a 5-2 lead.

Aggies Pour it On

In the top of the fourth, Texas A&M put the pressure on with one out after a base hit and ground rule double. That would be the end of the afternoon for Derek Diamond and Drew McDaniel would come on to try and keep the Rebels lead intact.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

Dylan Rock would hit a three-run home run of his own to tie the game up at five a piece. McDaniel would continue to struggle, giving up a base hit and back-to-back walks to load the bases with two outs. Despite the struggles, no pitching change was made and Brett Minnich would hit a grand slam to give A&M a 9-5 lead. McDaniel would be replaced by Mason Nichols, who was able to get the Rebels out of the inning after seven Aggie runs.

Missed Opportunities Prove the Difference 

Mason Nichols would continue to keep the Aggies off the board. The Rebels would have runners on base and be ahead in the count in the fifth and sixth innings but were not able to take advantage.

Brandon Johnson would replace Nichols in the seventh and would continue to hold the Aggies at bay, but the Rebels would fail to capitalize and Texas A&M would add three insurance runs in the ninth to take the game and series.

Many analysts believe Ole Miss (32-21, 14-16 SEC) will now need to win at least one game in Hoover to feel really comfortable about getting an NCAA Tournament berth.

Head Coach Mike Bianco was asked what he thought the Rebels would need to do in Hoover to make the tournament.

We don’t even know who we’re playing. If you lose on Tuesday you don’t play anyone. It’s not rocket science. You better focus on who you’re playing on Tuesday and for those three or four hours.

On to Hoover 

With the loss, the Rebels will face Vanderbilt on Tuesday at the SEC Tournament in Hoover. The game will be at 4:30 p.m. CT on the SEC Network.

(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)

Austin Eldridge
Austin Eldridge

Austin has more than ten years in sports media, including sports talk radio, play-by-play broadcasting and journalism. He has followed Ole Miss athletics for his entire life and has covered the Rebels and the rest of the SEC while working in the Memphis media market. Outside of sports media, Austin is a musician and outdoorsman. Before a serious accident forced him to be medically discharged, he was a multi-media journalist with the Mississippi National Guard.

About The Author

Austin Eldridge

Austin has more than ten years in sports media, including sports talk radio, play-by-play broadcasting and journalism. He has followed Ole Miss athletics for his entire life and has covered the Rebels and the rest of the SEC while working in the Memphis media market. Outside of sports media, Austin is a musician and outdoorsman. Before a serious accident forced him to be medically discharged, he was a multi-media journalist with the Mississippi National Guard.

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