OXFORD, Miss. – Ole Miss baseball put together one of the best seasons in program history, but the Rebels didn’t get the finish they hoped for, falling 3-2 in Monday’s NCAA Oxford Regional finale to No. 2 seed Tennessee Tech (52-10) to end their season at 48-17.
Ole Miss entered the day with two chances to win one against college baseball’s winningest team in 2018. The Rebels fell behind 10-0 in the first game of the day, but battled back with a five-run rally in the eighth inning but ultimately came up short against the nation’s top offensive club in a 15-5 defeat.
Game 2 was a different story, as freshman Jordan Fowler turned in a terrific performance, allowing just four hits over 5.1 innings, striking out a pair of Golden Eagles along the way. Behind Fowler’s arm, the Rebels battled their way through a scoreless first five innings.
Grae Kessinger broke the tie and set 10,000-plus fans at Swayze Field off, leading off the sixth inning with a solo shot into the bullpen in left field. Nick Fortes, Thomas Dillard and Cole Zabowski kept the rally going with three straight singles. Zabowski’s base hit sent Fortes home to make it a 2-0 Rebel lead.
However, Tennessee Tech answered back in the bottom half. Fowler got the first out of the inning on a grounder to Kessinger at short, but he hit the next batter he faced, ending a string of eight straight Golden Eagles retired. TTU’s Trevor Putzig made the most of the rare runner on base, knocking a game-tying home run over the left field wall. Houston Roth relieved Fowler after the homer and struck out two Golden Eagles to end the inning.
Roth walked the leadoff batter in the following inning, and after a passed ball and a bunt single, he was relieved by Parker Caracci. Caracci struck out the first batter he faced before allowing what proved to be the game-deciding sacrifice fly before escaping the inning on a groundout to short.
In its final two chances at the plate, Ole Miss got a one-out walk from Dillard in the eighth, and a one-out single from Cockrell in the ninth, but the SEC Tournament Champions couldn’t manufacture the game-tying run and fell in a 3-2 heartbreaker.
– Ole Miss ended its season tied for the most wins in program history with 48.
– The Rebels also tied a school record with 21 saves as a team, matching the mark set in 1993.
– The Ole Miss pitching staff came up just three strikeouts shy of tying a program record with 621 on the season. The record of 624 from the 2008 season stands as the most by a Rebel staff.
– Ole Miss finished the season with the best fielding percentage in program history at .978, breaking the previous mark of .976 set in 2012.
– Ole Miss finished with an even .300 batting average, the first Rebel team to break the .300 mark since 2009.
(Article written by Ole Miss Athletics)