The bats were hot early as the 2014 College World Series continued on Thursday night. The Ole Miss Rebels were able to survive, knocking out the Texas Christian Horned Frogs with a huge 5-4 win.
The stakes were at their absolute highest on Thursday night, as the two were playing in an elimination game with the winner staying in Omaha, Nebraska, and the loser heading home.
The Horned Frogs were coming into this game after a tough loss in 15 innings to Virginia on Tuesday, while the Rebels avoided elimination on Tuesday with a 2-1 win over Texas Tech.
The Rebels came into the game confident in their starter, right-hander Sam Smith, who was preparing for his second consecutive start in an elimination game.
"It's every kid's dream to make a start in Omaha," Smith told Michael Bonner of The Clarion-Ledger. "I'm looking forward to it. I guess we're in the same situation as we were last week. I'm just trying to go as far as I can to give us a shot to win."
Things were looking up for Smith and the Rebels early on. The junior had one-two-three innings in two of the first three while only allowing two baserunners in the first three innings.
Meanwhile, his team was able to grab three runs in the top of the third thanks to a Braxton Lee single and a two-RBI double from Will Allen, putting Ole Miss up 3-0.
As Aaron Fitt of Baseball America pointed out, the wind was blowing toward home plate, but that didn't keep Allen from hitting a screamer for the two-run double:
Flags in CF were still for an inning or 2. Now they are waving toward home plate again. Will Allen hits a laser right thru wind—2 run double— Aaron Fitt (@aaronfitt) June 20, 2014
After giving up a couple more hits in the top of the fourth, the Horned Frogs decided to pull Tyler Alexander and replace him with Jordan Kipper with a runner on second and one out. Kipper quickly struck out the next two batters to give his team some momentum.
After a few innings in which they weren't able to touch Smith, the Horned Frogs finally got to him in the fourth inning.
His quickly lost his command, giving up a few hits and walks, including one with the bases loaded to bring in a run. The Rebels pulled Smith with the bases loaded in a 3-2 game.
Sam Smith goes 3 1/3 and leaves them loaded, Laxer coming in Rebels up 3-2 B4 #RebsBSB— Ole Miss Baseball (@olemissbaseball) June 20, 2014
Josh Laxer came in to try to help Ole Miss get out of a jam, but ended up walking another batter with the bases loaded to tie things at 3-3. Still, he was able to limit the damage and keep things tied into the fifth. Sikes Orvis quickly answered back with an RBI single to put Ole Miss back up 4-3.
However, Kevin Cron came right back in the next half-inning to tie things up once again, crushing a solo home run to left field for just the second of the entire College World Series.
The only other player to hit a home run was C.J. Hinojosa, who hit a walk-off homer on Wednesday night for the Texas Longhorns.
In the seventh inning, Allen was able get another big hit, as he had one of the hot bats for the Rebels. He came up with a screaming single to drive in Auston Bousfield and give his team the 5-4 lead. Ole Miss couldn't add any more runs in the inning.
After TCU missed an opportunity to add another run in the eighth, the Rebels got some insurance in the top of the ninth inning from Orvis, who drove in Allen on a double to give them a two-run cushion.
With how well Allen played, Fitt believed that he deserved to be the player of the game:
Will Allen is the easy choice for player of the game if this result holds up. 3 hits, 3 RBIs. 2-out single in 9th, scores on Orvis double.— Aaron Fitt (@aaronfitt) June 20, 2014
After a one-two-three bottom of the ninth, the Rebels were able to hold on and survive.
This was another punch in the gut for the Horned Frogs after such an emotional loss on Tuesday, but they played well throughout the tournament. They're now the fourth team to be eliminated in Omaha, leaving just four teams to vie for the championship.
The Rebels are now one of those teams, but things won't get any easier.
They're still a loss away from going home while Vanderbilt and Virginia have yet to drop a game. Ole Miss will play the Cavaliers on Friday, hoping that it can come back in less than 24 hours and win another one.
If Rebels' bats can heat up with Allen and Orvis leading the way, then they'll have a good shot at surviving for another game at the very least. Ole Miss understands that there can't be any slip-ups, though, and it'll need to play a near-perfect game against Virginia.