Serious Series Setback

Ole Miss lost to Alabama two straight games after winning Friday night; on Sunday the score was 6-4. But it is an injury to Jake Morgan that could be an even more costly loss.

Morgan, the sensational closer for the Rebels (15-6 overall, 1-2 SEC) was pitching in the ninth and there was one out. There was one strike on Austen Smith when Morgan called for the trainer. Coach Mike Bianco also headed out to the mound. After a visit, Morgan exited and Eric Callender, who had closed the Saturday loss to the Crimson Tide (13-7, 2-1), finished things up Sunday as well.

"Something happened, the doctor thinks, in his AC joint, which is in your shoulder," Bianco said. "All the standard tests they do for pitchers to evaluate the rotater cuff and those types of things, he passed and was fine (after the game).

"(Morgan) said it happened about five pitches before the final pitch. He was starting to feel some pain but was bearable. The tough guy that he is he's out there competing and of course we don't know anything about it. He throws a pitch and you could see him. I wasn't sure if he stumbled or what happened. So we go out there, and (he said) he had a shooting pain in his shoulder that ran kind of up his neck. So they'll get him in for an MRI. Hopefully we can get some results tomorrow."

If Morgan is out even for a short while, that could spell some trouble for an already limited pitching staff for the Rebels. Two newcomers, freshman Bobby Wahl and junior R.J. Hively, have been shelved for three weeks with arm soreness. They both could return, likely Hively sooner than Wahl.

Jake Morgan felt pain in his shoulder
Bruce Newman
Senior Trent Rothlin, who hasn't pitched in the last several games, and redshirt freshman Brooks Oursler were throwing in the bullpen area Sunday after the game. Freshman Mike Mayers made relief appearances Saturday and Sunday. Callender, as stated above, made back to back appearances. And there is normally reliable closer Brett Huber, who has struggled with some walks this season, allowing 12 in 11.1 innings.

But it was hitting that the Rebels needed to see more improvement in this weekend. For three games the Rebels had 22 hits and scored 13 runs.

"A little bit," Bianco said of the progress of his offense. "We need more obviously. I thought the at-bats were better today. We swung the bats much better today. Hit some balls hard. But we can be better."

In Sunday's finale, Alabama scored two runs in the second inning and three more in the fourth inning, the final moment for starter Austin Wright a two-run homer by Taylor Dugas into the visiting bullpen in right field. Wright was replaced by right-hander Blair Wright.

Starter Wright went 3.2 innings with five runs on six hits, a strikeout and a walk.

"Just a combination of him not being as sharp and them being hot at the plate," Bianco said. "For a team that was struggling like us going into the weekend (offensively), they had 13 hits yesterday and like six hits in the first four innings (Sunday). Mix in an error or two, a couple of walks, some bunts, and they were able to really put some innings together earlyon."

Ole Miss got a run in the bottom of the fourth. There was more there for the taking, but the Rebel offense couldn't produce. Tanner Mathis, 2-for-4 Sunday, led off with a single to left, followed by an Alex Yarbrough single to right. Yarbrough was 3-for-4 in the finale.

Matt Smith popped up and the ball dropped, but the infield fly rule was in effect. Mathis moved to third, while Yarbrough stayed at first. Matt Snyder, 2-for-4, struck out looking. Matt Tracy, clearly one of the team's current offensive producers, singled to left to score Mathis. Preston Overbey grounded out to end the inning.

Ole Miss chipped away at the UA lead with two more runs in the 6th. Back to back singles, just like in the fourth, by Mathis and Yarbrough got things started. Smith flew out to get Mathis home from third. Matt Tracy flew out to get Yarbrough home. Overbey flew out to end the inning.

After Alabama added an insurance run in the top of the eighth to make it 6-3, the Rebels got one back in the bottom of the eighth. A one-out single by Matt Smith turned into a run after Matt Snyder doubled to get Smith home.

At 6-4, things ended that way. But the end wasn't as much about a second-straight loss to Alabama as it was about the situation with the Rebels' all-star closer. His teammates wondered the same thing.

"It might be one of those things where he's back on Tuesday or it might be a long-term thing," said Matt Smith, obviously hoping for the best – for Morgan and for the team.

Ole Miss hosts Samford Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. Bianco said as of now it appears Matt Tracy will start on the mound.

OM Spirit Top Stories