That sets up a championship showdown between the two for the NCAA Regional Monday at 6:35 p.m.
The left-handed freshman Finnegan went 7.1 innings and the Rebels never got much going. Two runs on six hits were all they could muster, and reliever Justin Scharf was equally hard on the Rebels, pitching 1.2 innings, facing five batters, and striking out two.
Hively, who went 5.2 innings in his third day to pitch in the Regional, combined with Aaron Greenwood, who pitched 3.1 innings, and together they did a solid job against a team that had scored 38 runs in its last two games here. Those were wins over Dayton and Texas A&M.
TCU only had eight hits, so credit the two Rebel pitchers for holding down the potent attack. But Ole Miss only had six hits in the contest, and that proved to be fatal.
Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said the Horned Frogs simply outdid his ballclub in every capacity.
“They pitched better, they hit better, they fielded better,” he said after his team fell to 37-25. “When you get to this point, you’re not going to sneak through. Give them a lot of credit.”
TCU head coach Jim Schlossnagle, facing Ole Miss for the fourth time this season, said it was an important day for his program.
“Obviously it was an exciting finish to a really good day for TCU,” he said, his team now 39-20. “I’m really proud of the way our guys competed throughout the day. There was great energy from guys on the field and guys in the dugout. Certainly we got two phenomenal performances.”
Those two pitchers, the starters from Sunday, won’t be available Monday night, according to Schlossnagle. Finnegan and Stefan Crichton will sit Monday night’s game out. Everybody else can go, he said.
Offensive Woes Again
It wasn’t quite like it was during much of May. The Rebels had some opportunities to score runs against the Horned Frogs. Just not enough of them.
Bianco said it was a tough day to get anything done offensively for his team. This against a team that had already played a game earlier in the day and won 10-2 to eliminate host and top-seeded Texas A&M.
“I thought Finnegan was tremendous,” said Bianco, looking for his program’s first Regional championship in three seasons. “We couldn’t catch up to the fast ball. I don’t know if it was sneaky fast. But we chased some balls up. He dumped enough breaking balls in there to keep us off balance. They got two great pitching performances from both their starters today.”
“Hively was a warrior just like we thought he would be,” Bianco said. “A gutsy performance. But we’ve got to help him a little more than we did.”
Bianco said it was a day of waiting for his team, especially so from a starting pitcher standpoint.
“You guys know where we’ve been with that (third) starter, and if there’s a possibility on the third day to start him, we would,” he told the media. “We really didn’t know until about 5:30. We wanted to play catch and see how he felt. He said he felt great.”
Hively said he was good to go and was going to go out there and pitch for his team.
“I felt great,” he said. “I told Coach (Bianco) I wanted to throw before (the game) to see how I felt, and that if I could go I wanted to. I was getting my fastball over. They had to honor that so when I threw my slider, it was that much better. I was fine up until the later innings.”
Bianco said they were able to pretty much monitor how far they thought the senior righty could go.
“We knew from experience that he’s going to give us around five innings,” Bianco said. “He’s going to get to about 75 pitches or so. In the past if we could get that, that would be good. And he did. A gutsy performance against a team that’s really, really swinging the bats well. He hung in there.”
Bianco said TCU, which Ole Miss defeated 6-2 on opening day of this Regional, was too much for his team on this night.
“Credit them. I thought they had some great at-bats, especially with runners in scoring position,” he said.
Bobby Wahl and Mike Mayers are available if needed Monday night. Bianco didn’t name a starter yet.
He said only Hively and possibly Brett Huber, with a tender arm, were not available for the title game.
Matt Snyder, 3-for-4 with a RBI and the lone Rebel with multiple hits, said he and his teammates knew what was on the line Sunday night.
And they know what is on the line Monday night. That would be a trip to a Super Regional.
“We have to come out with energy. They are going to be ready to swing it tomorrow,” he said. “We have to be confident in what we can do and know that we have a great opportunity to win a championship tomorrow. We have to keep our heads high and be ready to play tomorrow.”
Schlossnagle said Sunday was all about getting to Monday.
“I wish today would have won us something, but it hasn’t,” he said. “It feels good but we certainly have to forget about it really fast.”
So does Ole Miss.