OMAHA, Neb. -- Maybe Ole Miss lefthanded pitcher Christian Trent was meant for moments like the one presented to him at the College World Series.
Just a couple of weekends ago in the Lafayette Super Regional, after the Rebels lost their opening game of the weekend against Louisiana-Lafayette, Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco was confident and proclaimed that Trent would find a way to give the Rebels a chance in Game Two.
That hunch proved to be right, as Trent went out in a hostile environment and mowed down the hard-hitting Cajuns, thus turning the tide of the series, and helping propel his Rebels to Omaha.
Perhaps it's déjà vu all over again for Trent and the Rebels?
Ole Miss still has much work to do to advance to the CWS Championship Series, needing to win three more games to get there. But against Texas Tech in an elimination game, the Rebels relied on Trent to get the job done. And as he has done so many times this season, he was locked in, poised, worked out of jams, and put together his fifth scoreless start of the season in a 2-1 win over Texas Tech.
"He's been our Saturday starter and we've always called Saturday our swing games. He's done that all year long," Bianco said. "He hasn't had a bad outing all year long even in games he hasn't won. I think our guys have the confidence [with him on the mound], and even though we didn't win our first game, I'm not sure there's a better guy to run out there in a Game 2 than Christian Trent."
Though Trent pieced together a strong start against the Red Raiders, it wasn't without at least a little drama, especially earlier in the contest. For instance, Trent allowed one-out doubles in the first and second innings, but found a way out. Then, he escaped a two-on, two-out jam in the fifth, and finally, avoided some damage in the sixth and eighth innings, as the Red Raiders tried to mount some sort of rally.
In the end, though, Trent was his typical self, willing the Rebels to a good showing by striking out six, walking one and allowing just six hits in eight shutout innings. He had a three-pitch mix against the Red Raiders with a fastball, slider and changeup, his slider typically the best secondary offering.
"Yeah, I thought it [my outing] was big for me. I was all three pitches," Trent said. "Normally, it takes a little while for me to get my secondaries going. But I felt my early fastball command was good, and felt I had good use of my slider and changeup. So I was able to keep them off balance and use those pitches in full effect."
Despite such a strong performance, Trent left the game after eight innings with just a 1-0 lead because of the outing Texas Tech young righthanded pitcher Ryan Moseley put together. Though lost in the mix of a loss, Moseley was just terrific against a potent Rebels lineup, sitting 89-92 with a sinking fastball with good armside run on it.
Moseley threw almost all fastballs, but still managed to strike out six, only walking three and allowing just a run (not earned) on four hits in 7 1/3 innings.
"His fastball was just so hard and he had a lot of depth to it," Bianco said about Moseley. "We swung at more fastballs today more than anytime I can remember. His fastball just kept sinking and you'd look up at the jumbotron to see the action of it. There were times I thought it was a slider, then you'd look up, and it's at 92 mph. It was just a fastball with a lot of sink to it."
Moseley gave the Red Raiders a chance to come back in the latter innings. Tech was down 1-0 in the ninth inning and tied the game on a sacrifice fly. However, in the bottom of the ninth, seldom-used first baseman John Gatlin, who had just 29 at bats and five RBIs this season entering his pinch-hit at bat, blooped an RBI single into shallow right-center field to give the Rebels a 2-1 victory.
Dramatics in the ninth inning gave Ole Miss the win to stay alive in Omaha. But like much of the season, it was Christian Trent setting the tone early and often.
Player of the game: Christian Trent, lhp, Mississippi
Turning point: Though the Rebels beat Texas Tech in the bottom of the ninth inning with a walk-off bloop RBI single from John Gatlin, the biggest hit of the game before that came with two outs in the seventh inning. With a runner on second base and two outs, the Rebels called on pinch hitter Holt Perdzock to provide a boost just like he did in NCAA Super Regional action against Louisiana-Lafayette. Perdzock answered the call by lacing an RBI single down the left-field line to go up 1-0 on Texas Tech. Sure, Tech tied the game in the ninth inning, but Perdzock's RBI single set the tone for the rest of the contest.
Did you know? Ole Miss righthanded pitcher Christian Trent has been a consistently solid piece to this Rebels pitching staff this season. Trent got a no decision against the Red Raiders, but recorded his 13th quality start of the season. He fanned six batters for the eighth time this season, while this was his fifth scoreless start of the season. He has a 0.47 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 21 1/3 innings of work this NCAA postseason.