COLLEGE STATION, Texas (WTVA/Ole Miss Athletcis) - No. 5 Ole Miss baseball scored three runs in the eighth, and Parker Caracci shut the door on a Texas A&M rally to give the Rebels a come-from-behind 5-4 win over the No. 11 Aggies Friday night.
Ole Miss improves to 21-2 on the season and 3-1 in Southeastern Conference play, taking a tense Game 1 pitchers’ duel between the top two pitching staffs in the league.
The Aggies broke through first, scoring one in the second inning after an errant throw by catcher Nick Fortes erased was would’ve been an inning-ending 1-2-3 double play. However, the Rebel junior made up for it in the third, blasting a high fastball by Texas A&M ace Stephen Kolek deep over the left field wall to give Ole Miss a 2-1 lead.
Kolek and Ryan Rolison went back-and-forth before the Aggie offense chased Rolison in the fifth after an RBI double by Braden Shoemake made it a 3-2 Aggie lead. Head coach Mike Bianco turned to Will Ethridge first out of the pen, and the sophomore didn’t disappoint. Ethridge allowed one inherited baserunner to score, making it a 4-2 game, but the Aggies didn’t muster much after that.
Ethridge fanned two in the fifth, escaping a dangerous two-on, two-out situation. He sat down two more in the sixth, as well as the final batter he faced in the seventh. The sophomore from Lilburn, Georgia, finished with six strikeouts, no walks, two hits and no charged runs in three innings of work.
While the Aggies couldn’t seem to hit the Rebel bullpen, the story was different when Texas A&M turned to its relievers. With Kolek out after striking out 10 in seven innings, Ole Miss jumped on reliever Nolan Hoffman in the eighth, starting with back-to-back singles by Grae Kessinger and Ryan Olenek. The top of the Rebel order continued to work as Fortes chopped one over the outstretched glove of Aggie third baseman Allonte Wingate to send Kessinger home.
Then came the game’s biggest at-bat, as Thomas Dillard singled to left field to score Olenek and tie the game. But when the ball skirted away from Aggie left fielder Logan Foster, Fortes wheeled around for what turned out to be the game-winning run.
From there, the Parker Caracci Show began. The Aggies threatened in the eighth after a potential groundout bounced off of second base and into center. Another wild sequence followed where a double-play ball turned into a bases-loaded, one-out scenario with the Aggies’ No. 3 and 4 hitters due up. However, Caracci rose to the occasion, striking out Texas A&M’s two best hitters back-to-back to end the inning.
Caracci then fanned two of three in the ninth to close out his second career save with five strikeouts and no walks over two innings.
Tomorrow, Ole Miss will look to clinch a sixth-straight weekend series win to open the season. The Rebels and Aggies will once again meet at 6 p.m. CT on SEC Network.