Can't Hold On

AUBURN, Ala. – Ole Miss had Auburn right where it wanted the Tigers, or so it seemed. With every opportunity to capitalize, Ole Miss stumbled its way to a 9-7 loss on the plains. The Tigers took the series two games to one.

The Rebels led 5-1 early. A 3-run home run by Matt Tracy in the first inning set the tone. After the Tigers got a run in the bottom of the first, Ole Miss answered with two runs in the second on a two-RBI single by Alex Yarbrough.

But that was as good as it would get for Ole Miss as the Tigers chipped away and eventually went on to win it.

"Just an ugly game," said Ole Miss Coach Mike Bianco, his team now 24-17 overall and 9-9 in Southeastern Conference play. "Especially on the mound, we just didn't pitch. It's disappointing to swing it that well early and not come away with the victory."

Auburn improved to 22-17 and also 9-9.

The Rebels, up 5-4 at the time, took a 7-4 lead in the fifth on a two-RBI double by Matt Snyder. But, as an indication of this team's troubles but certainly not to fault Snyder's efforts, he tried to stretch it into a triple and was thrown out. Instead of a Reb on second and one out, the Rebels had bases clear and two outs. Preston Overbey flew out to end any further production.

In the sixth, Ole Miss ran itself out of an inning that could have made a difference. Auburn had gotten a run in the bottom of the fifth to trail 7-5. Ole Miss had runners at second and third with one out after two Auburn errors allowed Rebels to reach. Blake Newalu was at the plate when Taylor Hightower headed home on a squeeze. But Newalu didn't make an attempt to bunt as the ball was off the plate. The umpire called it a strike anyway, and Hightower was out in a rundown. Newalu then grounded out to shortstop, and the inning was over.

Tracy set an early tone with a 3-run
Bruce Newman
The Rebels still led by two runs, but the momentum on the road in Auburn's home park had shifted. Ole Miss had only one hit – a single by Yarbrough in the seventh – after the blunders of the sixth.

Austin Wright was all over the place all day as he managed to get to the top of the fifth before giving way to R.J. Hively. Auburn got four earned runs on six hits off Wright who walked four and struck out three.

Hively did well until he gave up a 3-run home run to Kevin Patterson in the bottom of the seventh. That made it 8-7 and the Tigers tacked on one more in the eighth for the final tally.

As much as Ole Miss dominated early, Auburn dominated the game, even with three Tiger errors to surprisingly none for the Rebels. The Tigers had 13 hits to the Rebels seven.

Hively got the loss to fall to 0-2. Bianco thought he pitched well, and he did, until the three-run homer by Patterson.

One positive note. Jake Morgan threw again before the game Saturday. He had also thrown on Friday.

"Jake threw again today and did terrific," Bianco said. "He got out to about 300 feet, threw long like he normally does when he's healthy and no pain. He even said he felt better than yesterday. He can feel it still, but it's not painful. He'll toss tomorrow and then bullpen on Monday. I would think that if each day he's pain free he'll be ready to pitch next weekend."

One negative note. Mathis had his 23-game hit streak stopped today. It was the third longest in UM baseball history.

"Terrific the whole year," Bianco said of the sophomore outfielder. "People talk about the hit streak, but he's just had a tremendous year offensively. Hopefully he can get another streak going."

Ole Miss hosts Arkansas-Pine Bluff Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.

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