Rebels' Season Ends Quietly

LOS ANGELES -- Ole Miss goes down 2-1 to Bakersfield on Saturday night in Los Angeles...

Mississippi’s 2015 season ended Saturday night in Los Angeles, with the Rebels losing 2-1 to No. 4 regional seed Cal State Bakersfield. For the second straight night, Ole Miss was held to just one run, and although the Rebels hit a little bit better than they did against Maryland on Friday, it was still not enough to outlast the Roadrunners.

“You’re never really prepared for (these moments when the season is over),” head coach Mike Bianco said. “But the truth of the matter is that every coach in the country is going to have give this talk except one, the one who wins the national championship.”

The win was the first ever postseason win for Bakersfield, which is making its first appearance in the Tournament this year.

For the second straight game, Ole Miss was robbed of what looked like a home run to center field when Jordie Hein cheated Colby Bortles of what would have been a two-run shot in the top of the 5th inning. Instead, it was a long sacrifice fly, bringing in Errol Robisnon from third. Unfortunately for the Rebels, it would be their only run of the contest.

“Tell me about it,” Bianco said when asked about the spectacular plays made against his team. “Two home runs robbed. (But) this is the best of the best. You win because you play well. You win because you make more plays, offensively and defensively.”

Other than that threat, Ole Miss was without too many more offensive opportunities. In probably their best other opportunity, the Rebels had runners on first and second with two outs in the second inning when Cameron Dishon lined a single to right. J.B. Woodman, who was on second, was waved through third and a perfect throw from Bakersfield right fielder Chance Gusbeth had him by several feet at home.

“You have to do that,” Bianco said, when asked why they sent Woodman home. “Runs are at a premium, obviously, and I thought their guy did a great job (throwing him out). The truth is that Cameron just hit it too good, and it got to the outfielder too quickly.”

The rest of the game was more of the same. In the third inning, the Rebels had the bases loaded with two outs, but failed to score a run when Woodman grounded out to second. In the 7th, Dishon led off the inning being hit by a pitch, but Errol Robinson, who had been 3 for 3 to that point, earned two quick strikes attempting to sacrifice bunt, and then struck out looking. Dishon then attempted to steal second, was caught, and the inning ended without the Rebels getting a runner past first.

It was a very similar game to last night’s frustrating performance against Maryland, only this time, Ole Miss was given an even better performance from its starting pitcher. Brady Bramlett pitched a really fine game, going a full 7 innings with just two earned runs on seven hits and a walk.

“I felt great today,” Bramlett said. “It was just one of those games.”

Bramlett really only had one inning where he was particularly threatened, the bottom of the fourth when he gave up two runs on a no-doubter home run by Solomon Williams over the right field fence. He gave up three sharp hits in the inning, and one very well hit lineout, but aside from that rocky 4th inning, he was sharp the rest of the evening.

“I thought Brady was terrific,” Bianco said. “The truth of the matter is, he didn’t make one mistake, I made one. We tried to sneak a fastball in to Williams and obviously he got all of it. But (Brady) was terrific.”

In fairness to the Mississippi batters, the Rebels faced Bakersfield’s ace, Hayden Carter, on Saturday night, rather than the team’s No. 2 pitcher. Carter had pitched twice during the WAC Tournament, going over 100 pitches last Sunday, so Bakersfield saved him for Saturday. Carter pitched a complete game, scattering seven hits and two walks on 117 pitches.

“We just didn’t have an answer for Carter,” Bianco said. “He was just unbelievable. We knew he pitched like that, but he’s just a guy who throws it in a cup and makes it so difficult on the offense.”

It should be noted that catcher Austin Knight had a very good defensive series, throwing out four would-be base stealers throughout the two games, which included throwing out a baserunner to end a Bakersfield threat in the 7th inning.

As for reflection, Bianco was firm in his message that he was proud of how the team competed through adversity this year.

“I know I’m proud of them,” Bianco said of his team. “I know there was a time in the season when it didn’t look good. But our guys, we challenged them, and they responded, and they’ve responded all year long. At the end of the day, you have a winning record in the No. 1 baseball conference in the country, you’re a No. 2 seed, you played the nation’s toughest schedule...these guys have a lot to be proud of.

“We made it to Omaha last year, and this year we could have fallen backward, but they didn’t let that happen. The young guys and the old guys competed all year and represented the University in a great way.”

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