Same Ole

PEARL – Ole Miss lost to Southern Mississippi 8-6 Tuesday night in 12 innings. Had they played until sunrise, the outcome might have been the same.

That's because in some way, shape, or form, this Ole Miss season is beginning to look like this contest. The Rebels have humps to get over but have a tough time doing so. In a lot of cases lately, they haven't been able to at all.

This was the seventh loss in their last nine games, and they've fallen to an uncharacteristic 20-14. Kentucky in Oxford for three games is up next.

"Just a tough one," said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. "The guys really competed hard, and I kind of cringe when I say that because there are no moral victories. I don't mean it like that. But as bad as we played, to be that close and to compete throughout 12 innings.

"We walked 13 guys," Bianco continued. "Yeah two of them were intentional. But 13 guys and we make four errors.

"And it's still a game."

That's 13 walks from seven different Rebel pitchers. R.J. Hively, who pitched an inning late, gave up three earned runs and faced only eight batters.

The Golden Eagles had four errors themselves. Bianco said he respects Southern Mississippi, now 24-8 on the season, a squad that has upended his Rebels both times this season. The other loss was in Hattiesburg 4-3 in 10 innings.

"They're so highly thought of, and there are two games, both at their place and here that we don't play well. Both extra inning games.

"We've got to win and we've got to play better," Bianco said, going forward. "But it seems like there's not that big of a separation (between the two teams.)"

The Rebels never led in this 12-inning affair, although they had their chances, especially in the ninth inning and extra innings.

"That's why you've got to tip your hat to them," Bianco said. "We had opportunities. We fought back and got there, but we couldn't get the last hit. We get it and we win, because we're the home team."

Rebel starter Matt Tracy got off to a quick start with two strikeouts in the top of the first inning. Then the wheels came off, not only for Tracy but for the Rebels.

Two walks then an error on first baseman Matt Smith, followed by a bloop hit and another walk and the Golden Eagles led 3-0.

Ole Miss cut the lead to 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth and could have gotten more. Back to back singles by Smith and Tracy led to just one run.

The Rebels moved to within a run in the fifth on a sac fly by Smith after Tanner Mathis had reached on a single, moved to second on a Blake Newalu sac bunt and to third on an Alex Yarbrough single.

USM moved out to a 4-2 lead in the seventh. A single by B.A. Vollmuth and a Rebel error on the play got him to third base, which set things up for Marc Bourgeois' double to get him in.

The Rebels trimmed the lead to 4-3 in the eighth on a triple by Yarbrough and a ground out by Smith which got Yarbrough home.

Hightower sparked rallies for the Rebels, reaching in the ninth when he was hit by a pitch before scoring two batters later on a single from Overbey. He opened the 11th inning with a walk before taking second on a passed ball and scoring on a double from Austin Anderson.

After sending things into extra innings, Southern Miss plated two runs in the top of the 11th on a single up the middle from Mark Ellis with the bases loaded that gave the Golden Eagles the 6-4 lead.

Hightower then sparked the Rebels' second rally of the night with his walk before scoring on the Anderson hit. Anderson then took third on a groundout to second from Tanner Mathis before a fielding error at short allowed him to score the tying run and send things into the 12th.

The Rebels again found themselves in a jam in the 12th when Southern Miss loaded the bases for the second straight inning. With two outs on the board, Adam Doleac delivered a single through the left side that scored two runs and gave the Golden Eagles the win as Ole Miss couldn't muster a third rally on the night.

Smith said the Rebels should be able to get past this one in a hurry. Kentucky in Oxford is up next.

"Another tough night," he said. "But we showed a lot heart and a lot of effort to come back and make it a game like that. There's no reason to dwell on it. Ain't nothing going to change it but for us to play good and win."

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