This team's clearest weaknesses glared more intensely than ever on this night. The Rebels appeared to have gotten a break when a 40 minute rain delay before the start of the game scratched Missouri ace Tanner Houck, citing that he "did not have enough time to prepare for the game." The Tigers handed the ball to junior right-hander Cole Bartlett, who had not started a game this season,but was 4-0 in 13 relief appearances that totaled. He moved to 5-0 after tossing a complete game.
Ole Miss actually led 2-0 early on thanks to three consecutive hits off of Bartlett to start the game, including an RBI base hit from Colby Bortles. But Missouri quickly got both of them back in the top half of the second thanks to a leadoff double from Nelson Mompierre and a then a two-run shot over the left field fence from Brett Bond. McArthur continued slip when Connor Brumfield launched a towering solo shot over the right field bullpen in the third to give Missouri a 3-2 lead. But the sophomore settled in after that, and kept Ole Miss in the game. He had a streak of 11 hitters retired in a row, and found his footing through the middle innings of the game before he was relieved by Will Stokes in the 7th.
The wheels came off of the wagon shortly after McArthur's exit as the bullpen faltered. Stokes struggled to find the strike zone when he came in, let up a run that McArthur was on the hook for and then another unearned run in the eighth when Nick Fortes botched a routine ground ball that would have gotten Ole Miss out of a jam, and kept the game at 4-2. Instead, a runner from third base scored to make it 5-2, and the Tigers strung together a couple two-out hits to tack on two more to take full control of the game at 7-2 after the three-run implosion. First base defense has been something that's plagued this team this season, and the Fortes' error was the beginning of the Rebels' unraveling.
On the other side, Bartlett made the most of his first start of the season and went the distance, scattering ten hits and giving up just two runs. Ole Miss found out just minutes before the game that it would be Bartlett instead of Houck. The coaches ran quickly through a scouting report in the dugout with the hitters. It appeared in the first inning that the Rebels were seeing Bartlett well, but his sinking fastball bested Ole Miss the entire night. He induced ground balls in big spots. He forced three double plays. His slider and change up complimented his fastball well, and kept the Rebels off balance.
Ole Miss got hits, just not timely ones. It actually out hit Missouri 10 to seven. Will Golsan was 3-4, and Bortles had a pair of hits. A lot of them were harmless two-out singles, and it was why Bartlett was able to dance around them in a complete game in which he surrendered double digit hits. He didn't walk a guy on the night and struck out three. All of the Rebels's hits were singles.
The bullpen failed a scrapping start from McArthur who rebounded from a shaky first three innings to keep Ole Miss in the game. Stokes was not effective, and neither was Brady Feigl after him.
The Rebels now sit at 23-15 (7-9) and will have to face one of the best pitchers in the country in Houck at some point this weekend.
On Bartlett: "It's about the timely hit, and they got all of the big hits tonight. We got more hits than them, but you have to get them with runners on and he was good tonight."
On McArthur: "I thought he was terrific. Once again, when he comes off the field and the bullpen fails him, lets his runner score so his line looks worse. Early on they get three hits, two homers. But he pitched well, he really did, and he deserved a lot better than that."
On Houck being scratched: "We grabbed the guys in the dugout. We had time. We're prepared for Houck and watched video, but that is overrated. We have a report on all of their pitchers, and once they made the lineup change we grabbed all the hitters in the dugout and gave them the information."
On Bartlett: "He kept his fastball down. He kept us off balance with the change up and the slider. The fastball was working for him after the first inning."
On the scouting report matching up: "It was right. He was a relief pitcher, had some sink to him and was going to stay down in the zone and work off of his slider and his fastball."
On game unraveling late: "They just got the timely hits and we did not. They had seven hits, three of them came in the last few innings. It was just the timely hits and home runs for them."