Fighting Back

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Ole Miss jumped on Houston Cougars pitching early all three games last weekend. Tuesday night here, the Louisville Cardinals did the same thing to the Rebels, scoring three runs in the first inning and hanging on for a 4-3 win.

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Freshman RHP Sam Smith got his first loss and is now 1-1 after the Cardinals were able to get to him in the first inning. The first two hitters – Adam Engel and Nick Ratajczak - singled, and a triple by Ty Young got them home. Alex Chittenden singled to score Young.

At that point Ole Miss was in catch-up mode, and the Rebels had plenty of time and plenty of chances.

Junior second baseman Alex Yarbrough said the Rebels had opportunities as the game moved on but couldn't capitalize enough.

"That's basically the reason we lost," Yarbrough said. "We put together some at-bats and had two and three runners on quite a bit in several innings and couldn't quite cash them in. The first inning proved to be decisive for them."

And decisive for Ole Miss, too. The Rebels broke through and finally scored in the fifth inning and added runs in the seventh and ninth. And also in the ninth had chances to tie or take the lead. But couldn't.

After an out, Andrew Mistone had a pinch-hit double, followed by a pinch-hit single by Sikes Orvis to score Mistone.

Tanner Mathis walked, and Senquez Golson flew out to right. Up came Yarbrough with two outs, and the Rebels still had a chance.

Alex Yarbrough
Bruce Newman

Yarbrough takes us through his at-bat, which proved to be the final one of the game. He grounded out to the pitcher who tossed it over to first base to end the game.

"He's got a great arm, a really live arm," Yarbrough said of the Cardinals' Derek Self, the last of six pitchers used by U of L head coach Dan McDonnell.

"He threw me two sliders to start off. He kind of hung the first one, and I fouled it straight back," Yarbrough continued. "I was right on it, but I was a tick under it. That last pitch was probably the sixth pitch I'd seen that at-bat and was the first changeup. There's not a lot you can do about that. I tried to stay back as long as possible. It was a really well-pitched at-bat by him. I just couldn't quite come through."

Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said the Rebels had their chances, but Louisville took better advantage of theirs.

"A great game but a tough one to lose," he said. "At the end of the day, they played a little bit better than us."

The Cardinals left only six stranded, while the Rebels left nine aboard. Louisville outhit Ole Miss 11-8.

Chris Ellis relieved Smith to start the seventh and pitched two effective innings. The freshman righty allowed no runs on one hit with a walk and four strikeouts.

Louisville, now 11-5 and ranked as high as 22nd in the Perfect Game poll, and Ole Miss, 13-3 and ranked as high as 12th in the Baseball America poll, meet again at 11 a.m. CT Wednesday.

Freshman RHP Josh Laxer is scheduled to start for Ole Miss, while freshman RHP Nick Burdi is the probable starter for Louisville.

Yarbrough said tomorrow's early game means the Rebels can quickly put this one behind them and rebound.

"We're looking forward to it. We think we match up pretty well with these guys," he said. "We've got Laxer going, and he's going to throw great. They've got another power righty going. We're looking forward to getting some rest tonight and coming back out tomorrow."

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