Falling Short

One game stands alone and teams change from season to season. But the storyline when Ole Miss and Southern Miss play baseball has become that the Rebels don’t win no matter which team plays nor which game it is.

Wednesday night’s 5-1 setback for the Rebels at the hands of the Golden Eagles in Hattiesburg made it five wins in a row for USM in the series and eight wins in the last nine meetings between the two schools.

That’s a trend plus some.

There will be questions like, “Does Southern Mississippi want it more than Ole Miss?” Certainly one answer to that question is the Golden Eagles arguably want it more than their other games; maybe even more than or as much as their conference games. And that goes for any games against Ole Miss and Mississippi State.

So there’s always that factor. Ole Miss gets another shot at changing the trend on April 7 in Pearl. That’s when USM pops up again on the schedule.

If a team isn’t hitting any better than Ole Miss is right now, which obviously means a lack of run production, then all other aspects have to play well. That didn’t happen either.

There were two errors by Ole Miss and none by Southern Miss. The Golden Eagles - with four - actually had one less hit than the Rebels. But Ole Miss allowed four USM runs in the sixth inning alone.

Leading 1-0, USM (7-4) was up 5-0 after the sixth inning ended. In the bottom of the sixth, a walk and a single forced starter Evan Anderson from the ballgame, and Jacob Waguespack relieved. Before the inning was over, Southern Miss was in total control.

The Rebels (6-5) used five pitchers in the game. Anderson went five plus innings with three earned runs on three hits with three strikeouts and three walks. Waguespack went a third of an inning with two unearned runs on one with one strikeout. Scott Ashford, Drake Robison, Mitchel Babb, and John Wesley Ray finished it out on the mound.

“When you only score one, the offense is going to take the brunt of it,” Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said. “We hit three hard balls in 27 outs. Just no good at-bats. They didn’t walk us. They didn’t kick it. We have to do a better job. We’ve got to compete harder offensively.”

Bianco said there is work to do in all phases.

“Today was the first day where really you could see the confidence lost,” he said. “Today we just didn’t swing it with any confidence. A few did but collectively not enough.”

Bianco, whose team hosts Stetson this weekend for three games, said there will be better times.

“While we’re waiting to score more runs, and we will, and while we’re waiting to get better offensively, we’ve got to get out of the big inning. We walked five and hit a guy. You’ve got to be good on the mound when you’re not good at the plate to have a shot at winning. Right now we’re not getting out of that big inning and putting a lot of pressure on the offense to score more runs. Where if we just throw the ball into the strike zone maybe we can stay in the game. It’s a 1-0 game and you feel a lot better toward the end. But we just can’t get off the field.”

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