More dominant pitching propels Ole Miss to first series win over Texas A&M since 2019

OXFORD — Reagan Burford made sure his lasting Senior Day memories were nothing but good ones

Burford — a team captain for Ole Miss who grew up coming to games in Oxford — hit a two-run home run in the second inning Saturday against No. 3 Texas A&M — part of a five-run rally with two outs in the inning — as the Rebels toppled the Aggies 10-2 at Swayze Field. With the win, Ole Miss clinched its first series against Texas A&M since 2019.

Six seniors were honored before the game —Burford, Bo Gatlin, Jackson Ross, Mitch Murrell, Ethan Lege and Ethan Groff. Burford tied his season-high with three RBIs.

“Senior Day in general is kind of bittersweet,” Burford said. “Last regular-season home series, being able to be up there in front of all the fans, with my fellow teammates who are seniors, that was awesome.”

In two games thus far in the series, Ole Miss (27-23, 11-15) has held Texas A&M — who entered the series as the No. 8 scoring offense in the country at 9.5 runs per game — to five combined runs. Sophomore Liam Doyle struck out seven batters over six full innings Saturday without surrendering a walk, giving up just one earned run. The Coastal Carolina transfer made 96 pitches.

“What makes (Doyle) go is the fastball. Just an elite fastball,” Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said. “ … Today, I thought he really had a great cutter. Sometimes he has it, sometimes he doesn’t. Today he really leaned on the cutter a lot, especially the second time through. … Today was a big day for the cutter.”

Ole Miss knocked Texas A&M (41-10, 16-10) starter Justin Lamkin out of the game in the second inning, as the Rebels scored five runs on five-straight hits with two outs. Burford, sophomore shortstop Luke Hill and sophomore third baseman Andrew Fischer drove in the Rebels’ runs with a home run, a single and a double, respectively.

Jace LaViolette got Texas A&M on the board with a solo home run in the third, but the Rebels responded with another run in the bottom of the inning by way of a Burford sacrifice fly. Ross hit a two-run single in the fourth, part of a three-run inning that increased the Rebels’ lead to eight runs.

Doyle came out for the sixth inning and surrendered a leadoff single, but a flyout and slickly-turned double play from Burford to sophomore first baseman Will Furniss got the Rebels out of the inning. Junior Josh Mallitz entered the game in the seventh for Doyle, and while the Aggies got a runner to third, Mallitz struck out Caden Sorrell to end the inning. Mallitz pitched the final three innings, finishing with an unearned run allowed, four strikeouts and two walks. Ole Miss pitching has 24 strikeouts and seven walks this series.

“(The key is to) minimize walks,” Doyle said. “ … It’s huge for us as a staff, and really fill up the strike zone, trust the defense … That always goes along with throwing up low numbers.”

Ole Miss will go for a sweep of the Aggies Sunday at 5 p.m. The game will be broadcast on SEC Network.

“You have to show up again tomorrow. … That’s the challenge, I think, for all the teams that are good or want to be good is, can you put the game that you just played behind you?” Bianco said. “And can you show up the next day and play — and play really hard — regardless of what happened the day before?

“ … The good teams, when they win, they’re able to show up the next day and put that behind them, regardless of it’s a win streak, of (if) it’s two wins already. To not be satisfied.”