It all started with just a bunt you might see in any baseball game. Arkansas State's Elliott Jacobs' lead-off bunt in the top of the second inning was fielded by Rebel starting pitcher Brett Bukvich, who threw offline to first baseman Jon-Jon Hancock. Jacobs advanced to second with what was ruled a two-base error, and the race was on.
Twelve more Indian batters later, along with another Rebel error, seven hits, and a hit batsman, and ASU had one of the biggest innings in Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field history on their way to a 14-9 win.
Their lead was actually only 10-3 at the time, because Ole Miss had scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning to be in control - it appeared.
But Bukvich had a hard time of it in that Indian second, and the visitors showed some prowess at the plate to gain control of the contest themselves, actually scoring enough runs in that one inning to win.
"They hit the ball. When you put the ball in play, good things happen," said Bukvich, who has been the unfortunate recipient of both Rebel losses so far this season. "I think I just began to press a little bit too hard in that second inning. It just snowballed after that first hitter. If I had to describe it in any way, it would be frustrating. I was comfortable when I went out there. Unfortunately the force wasn't with me today."
Team captain Justin Henry, who appeared to lose the baseball in the sun on one hit at him in that eventful second, a play first called an error but later changed to a hit, said it was a tough day for the Rebels, and it all started that inning.
"That was one of the weirdest innings I've ever been a part of," said the Rebel second baseman. "They got every bounce their way, and we couldn't make a play. You have to somehow make a play to stop innings like that, and we couldn't."
Also "weird" was that the Rebels had some opportunities to put together some big innings to catch up but couldn't, despite the fact they only had six hits on the day. There were nine walks given up by ASU's four pitchers, and the Indians had twice as many errors - four - as the Rebels.
Ole Miss had ASU starter T.J. Brewer on the ropes in the bottom of the first. Alex Presley led off with a single, and Chris Coghlan was hit by a pitch. The bases were loaded after Mark Wright walked, and there were no outs. Henry flied out to left field, scoring Presley. Wright advanced to second on a throwing error, and Coghlan to third. Hancock then singled up the middle to score both Coghlan and Wright for a 3-0 UM lead. That was all the Rebels got, but it appeared they were on their way. Then came the ASU second.
Down 10-3, Ole Miss began to chip away, but each time they did the Indians stretched it back out. The Rebels cut it to 10-6 in the fourth, but ASU scored two in the top of the fifth to make it 12-6. Ole Miss got two in the bottom of that frame to trim it to 12-8, but ASU added one each in the sixth and the eighth for insurance.
"We couldn't string any more hits together and
get more runs, and that's disappointing," Henry said. "We've got to be more consistent. One game we come out and get 15 hits and the next game we come out and get five or six. We've got to find some consistency at the plate and do a better job of swinging the bat."
Ole Miss Coach Mike Bianco said the game and the scoreboard spoke for themselves.
"Not much to say; just a real bad night," Bianco said. "Give up 10 runs in an inning and it's going to be tough to win a ballgame. The kids kept competing, but they're supposed to do that. We couldn't get the big inning back, and we had chances to. We couldn't answer. On the other hand, every time we seemed to make a run, they answered. When you're seven down, you can't trade runs. It would have taken a special performance by our team to win at that point, and we didn't have it."
Reliever Lance Lynn was a bright spot, striking out nine Indians in three and a third innings.
"I felt good out there," said the freshman right-hander. "I was just throwing it by them and trying to get outs to give the team a chance to get back in it. Unfortunately we didn't."
The Rebels, 6-2 on the season, host Illinois-Chicago this weekend, with games Friday at 6:30 p.m., Saturday at 1:30 p.m., and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. Arkansas State, 7-2, plays three games at Mississippi State.
Rebs fall to ASU 14-9
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