OXFORD, Miss. (Ole Miss Athletics/WTVA) - The No. 17 Ole Miss Rebels made for an exciting series finale at Swayze Field against the No. 6 Texas A&M Aggies, sealing a series sweep with their second walk-off victory of the weekend.
After playing hero on Thursday night with the game-winning RBI single in the 11th inning, Thomas Dillard again came through for the Rebels, sliding into home on a wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth today to hand a 3-2 walk-off victory to the Rebels.
With two walk-off wins to sandwich a blowout Friday victory, Ole Miss swept their second SEC foe of the season (No. 16 Florida, No. 6 Texas A&M), with both coming against top-20 ranked teams.
The Rebels improve to 30-15 on the year and 13-8 against SEC opponents, and now sit in second place in the SEC West, behind just the Arkansas Razorbacks (13-6).
Freshman Gunnar Hoglund turned in one of his most effective starts to date, going a career-long 6.0 innings pitched with just a pair of runs allowed, but it was once again closer Parker Caracci who earned the win after shutting down opposing bats.
After picking up his second win of the season Thursday night, Caracci earned his third today after pitching the top half of the ninth in a 1-2-3 inning. The Aggies hit .000 against Caracci in four innings this series, while No. 65 improved to 3-2 on the year with a pair of victories earned.
Cole Zabowski was 3-for-4 on the day with one RBI and a pair of doubles, including a one-out single in the bottom of the ninth to put the winning run 90 feet away from home. Zabowski was the only Rebel to record a multi-hit game, but his fellow infielder Grae Kessinger reached base twice to extend his reached-base streak to 33 consecutive games.
Hoglund made quick work of the Aggies through the first three innings, before Texas A&M scored the game's first run on a solo homer in the top of the fourth. The Rebels immediately responded with a run from Kessinger, who reached on a single and was sent home on a Dillard sacrifice fly.
While Hoglund was making for a quiet game on the defensive side of the ball, the Rebels continued to add, and pushed one more run across a few innings later, in the bottom of the sixth. Following a Kessinger walk and Dillard single, Zabowski doubled into center, scoring Kessinger while a Dillard play at the plate was overturned after review to an out.
The Rebel lead wouldn't hold for long, however. Hoglund's day came to an end after he gave up a leadoff triple in the top of the seventh, and he was credited an earned run after a groundout scored the run one batter later. Austin Miller made his team-high 21st appearance in relief of Hoglund, and following the run scored by the Aggies, was able to stifle any Texas A&M rally and eventually hand the ball off to Caracci.
Locked in a 2-2 tie at the midway point of the ninth inning, Dillard got the bats started with a one-out walk on a nine-pitch, full-count at bat. Zabowski singled to move him over to third, before the Aggies elected to put Cooper Johnson on first and face Michael Fitzsimmons with the bases loaded and one out.
On a swinging strike that missed its intended spot high and inside, the catcher was unable to field the pitch, and as the ball rolled to the backstop, Dillard scurried home and slid into the plate for the walk-off run to ensure the Rebel victory.
- Ole Miss improves to 30-15 on the year, and 13-8 in SEC play.
- Ole Miss has now swept two SEC opponents this season, #16 Florida and #6 Texas A&M.
- The Rebels have now had three walk-off victories this season (Long Beach State, Texas A&M, x2).
- Thomas Dillard was a part of the second walk-off victory this weekend, sliding into home for the game-winning run today after he hit the game-winning RBI single on Thursday night.
- Dillard has either scored or driven in the game-winning run in each of the Rebels' last five walk-off victories, dating back to last season.
- After trailing in the fourth, the Rebels rallied to win their 14 come-from-behind win of the season, and the fifth in SEC play.
- Shortstop Grae Kessinger has now reached base in 33 consecutive games, which includes every single SEC contest this year.
- Kessinger has hits in 18 of his last 20 games and is on a seven-game hitting streak.
- Freshman Gunnar Hoglund turned in one of his most productive starts this year today, going a new career-long 6.0 IP on the mound with just two runs and no walks allowed.
- In 4.0 innings pitched this series, closer Parker Caracci held the Aggies to a .000 batting average.
- Caracci earned his second win of the weekend today, and he improves to 3-2 on the year.
- Pitcher Austin Miller made his team-high 21stappearances today in relief of Hoglund.
- Thomas Dillard has now reached base in 16 straight games.