HOUSTON - No. 24 Ole Miss closed out the 2017 Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic with a 5-3 setback to No. 1 TCU Sunday afternoon at Minute Maid Park. The Rebels (7-4) scored three runs in the eighth to start a rally, but it wasn't enough against the nation's top-ranked team.
The Ole Miss bullpen was the brightest spot of the final day in Houston. Freshman Will Ethridge and sophomore Dallas Woolfolk combined to retire every TCU (10-1) hitter they faced in the final four innings, 12 Horned Frogs in total. Ethridge struck out four of his six batters faced, while Woolfolk continued his dominant start to 2017 by pitching two perfect innings of relief.
Colby Bortles homered for the third time this season, sending a two-run bomb over the railroad track in Minute Maid Park. Tate Blackman and Will Golsan added two hits apiece at the dish, with Blackman scoring a run and knocking one in as well.
The Rebels once again ran into a good starting pitcher, as Jared Janczak (3-0) allowed only two runs (one earned) on five hits in 7.1 innings. Seven Horned Frogs recorded hits, including a pair from first baseman Luken Baker.
Brady Feigl (1-1) pitched a perfect first inning, but the Horned Frogs got to the Ole Miss starter in the second inning. Using three hits, including a double by second baseman Cam Warner, TCU took a 3-0 lead. Two innings later, Ryan Merrill hit a solo homer to increase the Horned Frogs advantage to four.
Following a triple and an infield single to begin the sixth, Ethridge came in to replace Feigl on the mound. The Rebel freshman did his job by recording three straight outs and keeping the game at 5-0.
Ole Miss got on the board in the eighth with three runs to make it a two-run contest. Texas native Bryce Blaum started the rally with a pinch-hit walk before motoring to second on a failed pickoff attempt. With the Rebel in scoring position, Blackman smoked a base hit to left to plate Blaum and give Ole Miss its first run of the game. Two batters later, Bortles crushed a moon shot to left field to slice the deficit in half, 5-3.
Woolfolk retired the Horned Frogs in order once again in the ninth, but TCU closer Durbin Feltman (3) did the same to the Rebels to eliminate the comeback.
After a weekend away from home, the Rebels will return to the friendly confines of Swayze Field for five games in a six-day span. First, Georgia State makes the trip to Oxford for a pair of midweek games (March 7-8). Following a day off Thursday, Ole Miss will host Furman in the final non-conference weekend series before the start of SEC play (March 10-12). All five games will be broadcast live on SECN+ and can be heard on the Ole Miss IMG Sports Network.