Opportunistic Opponent

Baseball can be fun. And cruel. Sometimes it depends if you're on the winning side or the losing side. Better yet, make that always the case.

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Ole Miss lost to Kentucky 3-2 Friday night in Lexington. The Rebels had their chances, but this season the Wildcats seem to be a charmed team, taking advantage of many opportunities. Teams don't win 29 of the first 31 games and not get some breaks, make some breaks, have some luck, and also be a good team. Kentucky seems to be all of those things – so far.

UK, leading the SEC at 8-2, is ranked as high as No. 1 in one poll; Ole Miss (20-9, 5-5) as high as No. 10. It was going to most likely be a close and competitive game as the two teams began the three-game series. There were missed opportunities on both sides, but the final bounce of the ball went the way of the home team.

Ole Miss out-hit the Wildcats handily, with 14 hits to Kentucky's seven. But the Rebels couldn't get the timely hit and left 10 men stranded in the one-run loss. Ole Miss also had three men thrown out at the plate.

Dylan Chavez (3-2) took the loss in relief for the Rebels, allowing one run on three hits with two strikeouts in 1.2 innings of work.

Alex Phillips (5-1) picked up the win in relief, holding Ole Miss scoreless over 3.1 innings and allowing three hits with a walk and three strikeouts. Trevor Gott picked up his seventh save of the season, working the final two outs with a walk and a strikeout.

Making Plays When They Count:

"Very frustrating," Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said. "You get 14 hits on a Friday night. They give you three errors. You only score two runs. That's a recipe for disaster."

Bianco said there were some superlatives on both sides, just more on the UK side.

"They threw three guys out at the plate, and that doesn't happen much in any league, let alone college baseball," Bianco said. "We have to do better with runners in scoring position. They maxed it out, the few opportunities they had, except for the one inning when (Bobby Wahl) was able to get out (his last inning). They showed why they're good."

Wahl Not Quite Himself:

Starter Bobby Wahl, so sharp most of the season, went just four innings Friday night. He allowed two hits and only one run. But he struck out only two and walked four.

Wahl wasn't his usual self in this one.

"He didn't feel good tonight. He didn't feel good warming up," Bianco said. "Nothing specific. No specific spot in the arm or shoulder where he was feeling pain. He just felt like his arm was kind of tired, kind of dead today. No reason. I don't know why. He threw his regular bullpen on Tuesday and looked good. No real answer. He gutted it out. His (velocity) was down a little bit. He handled it. He comes out with the lead after four (innings)."

Andrew Mistone
Bruce Newman

The Game Itself:

Kentucky scored first, getting a run in the second inning. Ole Miss answered in the third inning, using three straight singles to bring a run home. Auston Bousfield singled before moving to third on a single to left center from Alex Yarbrough. Bousfield then scored on a single to center field from Matt Snyder to tie the game at one.

The Rebels took the lead in the fourth, again pushing a single run across the plate to go up 2-1. Preston Overbey singled through the right side before scoring from first on a double to the wall in left from Andrew Mistone.

Kentucky tied things up in the sixth inning on a sac fly to right field that scored Luke Maile from third. Maile doubled to right field to open the inning and took third on a passed ball. He then scored on the fly out to right field from Zac Zellers to tie the game at two.

In the seventh inning it appeared that Ole Miss was going to move back on top with a sac fly to center field from Snyder with one out. It was ruled that Tanner Mathis was out at the plate on the play, however, and the score remained tied.

Kentucky took the lead for good in the eighth, getting a double to left center from Maile to lead things off. He then scored on a single up the middle from Cameron Flynn to put the home team up 3-2.

Ole Miss got a man to second with one out in the top of the ninth, but couldn't get him home as Kentucky notched a strikeout and a groundout to claim the win.

Flush It Fast:

Mistone, the Rebel junior third baseman, despite being thrown out at home twice, was 2-for-4 with a double and RBI. He said it's comeback time already for Ole Miss.

"Tough loss but you've got to bounce back. This game's over. There's nothing we can do about it now," he said.

Mistone, stellar at third base all season long, said the Rebels could still have won the game.

"We played well," he said. "We hit the ball well. We had 14 hits. We just didn't get that timely hit when we needed it."

Mistone said he knows the Rebels will be ready Saturday afternoon.

"We're a good team," he said. "There's no doubt in my mind we're going to come back tomorrow and swing it again like we did tonight and score more runs."

The Rebels and Wildcats play again at 1 p.m. CT on Saturday at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

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