Missed Opportunities

Ole Miss had things right where it wanted them. At least after a not so stellar afternoon of baseball, that is.

It was the bottom of the ninth inning, and the Rebels trailed Alabama 7-5. Preston Overbey led off with a base hit. Matt Tracy doubled to the wall to put runners on second and third with nobody out.

While an Alabama coach talked to relief pitcher Jonathan Smart, Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco sent pinch hitter Jordan King to the plate. The Rebel senior struck out.

Then came senior catcher Miles Hamblin, who struck out. Junior shortstop Blake Newalu flew out to right field, and the visitors had evened the series at a game apiece with their 7-5 victory.

"Not a real good day for us all the way around," said Bianco after his team fell to 15-5 overall and 1-1 in Southeastern Conference play. "We don't pitch well. We walked too many guys. We gave them too many opportunities.

"At the plate we're trying. We're getting better," he continued. "We were able to fight and get ourselves back into it. But the thing that's got a few times this year, scoring guys from third base with less than two out, certainly got us there in the ninth. We just didn't play well today."

Matt Smith, 2-for-3 with two RBI and two runs scored, said the Rebels had too many missed opportunities against the Tide (12-7, 1-1).

"We just didn't get it done when we had to," said the fifth-year senior. "There were some situations that we gave them some runs, I feel like. Coach (Bianco) feels that way. They got more hits. And they got the runners in when they had to."

Alabama starter Adam Morgan gave Ole Miss hitters fits. The only Rebel runners who reached early in the contest were via a solo home run by Smith in the fourth inning and a walk by Matt Tracy in the fifth.

The Crimson Tide led 6-1 and appeared to be in control into the bottom of the sixth. Three straight Rebel singles by Blake Newalu, Tanner Mathis, and Alex Yarbrough loaded the bases. Smith walked to make it 6-2.

Matt Snyder grounded out to score Mathis. Overbey singled to score Smith and Yarbrough, also with an error on the Crimson Tide shortstop on the play. Tracy hit into a double play to end it.

But down 6-5, the Rebels were back in it with plenty of at-bats remaining.

However there was no more scoring until Alabama added a run in the top of the ninth off Rebel reliever Eric Callender. Jared Reaves doubled and later scored on a double by Jon Kelton.

Alabama outhit Ole Miss substantially on this day 13-8.

Goforth, who fell to 0-3 on the season, went 5.1 innings, allowing fuor runs, three earned, on six hits with four strikeouts and three walks. Rebel pitching, which also included freshman Mike Mayers and senior Eric Callender, walked six Tide batters in the contest, uncharacteristic of a Rebel staff so immune to walks recently.

"In the ninth we have to be able to hit the ball into play somewhere," said Bianco.

With runners on second and third and nobody out, that might have been enough to tie it. And who knows what happens after that?

Ole Miss and Alabama meet again on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. LHP Austin Wright (2-1, 2.66) pitches for the Rebels, while RHP Tucker Hawley (3-1, 2.16) goes for the Crimson Tide.

"Tomorrow's very important," Smith said. "We've just got to come out like we did Friday night and when we get opportunities actually get the job done."


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