Texas A&M 12, Ole Miss 8
As with many of the games we've witnessed in Hoover throughout the week, the scoring got started off early on in the game, with Texas A&M getting on base due to good bats and good eyes.
With two outs to begin the first, it seemed as if Ole Miss was going to start this game off with a pretty routine first inning. Nevertheless, their own pitching denied them that routine first inning, as a walk of Ryne Birk (and his subsequent steal of second) and Boomer White led to a scoring situation that Texas A&M had the chance to capitalize on. They did. A Michael Barash double scored the first run, while a fielding error brought in another run before the inning was finally over. All of a sudden, Texas A&M had a 2-0 lead early on, due mostly to mistakes made by the Rebels.
Ole Miss wouldn't be that far behind for very long, as the second inning brought singles from Ryan Olenek and Kyle Watson, putting the Rebels in a position to get on the board. With runners on the corners, Errol Robinson knocked the ball through the middle of the field, halving the Aggies' lead. After two innings, it was already clear that we were watching a fun ballgame.
The third inning featured the Aggies putting some increased distance between themselves and the Rebels on the scoreboard after a Bortles error at third--with the bases loaded--brought Boomer White across home plate. Despite that, Chad Smith kept calm, striking out Hunter Melton. That strikeout allowed Rebels fans and players to breathe a sigh of relief, as Texas A&M stranded three runners on base that inning. The damage could have been a lot worse.
Ole Miss found their chance in the third, however, to chip away at that Aggies lead, as a series of singles and walks led to Tate Blackman coming home. A subsequent Holt Perdzock single loaded the bases with two away. After that, the Rebels forgot about chipping away at the lead, instead focusing on taking it right away from Texas A&M after a single by Watson. Poor defense on a double steal, followed by another single by Robinson, gave the Rebels a quick 6-3 lead. This game was suddenly turned on its head, as Texas A&M just couldn't stop the hit parade. The Aggies finally managed to record the third out, but not until after Ole Miss gave themselves all of the game's momentum and positive energy.
A controversial reversed call at first led to an eventual sac fly scoring a run for the Aggies in the fourth. Was Homan out like they play was originally called? You can be the judge of that. Regardless, it was an incredibly consequential decision. Once again, Austin Homan came through for the Aggies in the fifth, as a single into right cut the Rebels' lead to only one run.
From there, the Rebels focused on putting insurance runs on the board, doing so in the seventh behind the bat of Errol Robinson, who was an offensive force for Ole Miss today. After that critical RBI single, J.B. Woodman had a chance to break this game completely open, but he grounded out with the bases loaded to end the inning.
Somebody didn't tell the Aggies that they were out of the game, however, as two RBI singles in the eighth brought the Rebels' lead to only one run. This game continued to prove that it's all about offense, however, as Walker Pennington was brought in to pinch hit with two runners on base. One powerful swing later, the Aggies had a 10-8 lead, thanks to his three-run homer. The Aggies had new life.
A&M added two insurance runs in the 9th, putting the game out of reach for Ole Miss, who just couldn't muster up the runs necessary to win or prolong this ballgame. The Aggies, who stormed from behind to take down the Rebels, are now headed to the SEC title game against either Florida or LSU.
Ole Miss should certainly be commended for their great offensive work in this game, as their two-out hitting throughout the ballgame was impeccable. I'm also not sure anyone else could have played better than Errol Robinson, who went 4-6 today with 4 RBIs.
So, after nearly four and a half hours, this game finally ended. The Aggies will play in their first-ever SEC title game, winning what was obviously an offensive battle, with both teams trading blows until that final out was recorded. It was a riveting game from start to finish, even though it took all afternoon to complete.
Florida 1, LSU 0
After an hour-plus delay, brought on by Texas A&M-Ole Miss running long, the much anticipated rivalry game started in Hoover, Alabama. A classic SEC pitching dual ensued during this semifinal game, and Florida came out on top by the score of 1-0.
LSU pitcher and Hoover native Caleb Gilbert gave an honorable performance, giving up five hits and one earned run. That run, which was scored in the sixth inning by Dalton Guthrie, proved to be the only offense that the Gators needed. Jonathan India, who went 2 for 2 on the day, knocked in Guthrie on a double during the sixth inning proving that he is one of the most clutch players on the Gators roster.
The only offensive highlight for LSU came at the top of the third when Michael Papierski doubled to left and reached third via a bunt by Cole Freeman. Both teams struggled when having runners in scoring position; LSU went 1-for-8 while Florida went 1-for-6 respectively. Winning pitcher Scott Moss only gave up three hits while also striking out seven hitters on only 71 pitches.
With the victory Florida moves on to the SEC championship game to face Texas A&M on Sunday. Even with the loss, LSU likely has an NCAA Tournament bid and regional site locked up.