It was one of those days – make that one of those innings. And it was a midweek game Tuesday that the Ole Miss Rebels look to forget this weekend when they host Illinois-Chicago for three games.
The Rebels fell to Arkansas State 14-9, and the visiting Indians got all the runs they needed in a 10-run top of the second inning.
The 18th-ranked Rebels, now 6-2, are ready to get back on the field Friday night at 6:30 and put that ugly game behind them.
"We're just anxious to get back out there and play a game," said team captain Justin Henry, the sophomore second baseman from Vicksburg. "Tuesday left a bad taste in our mouth. I was sure wishing we had a game Wednesday to play. So we're ready to play better baseball."
Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco agreed with Henry that the Rebels just need to play again and play better.
"Obviously we have to play better than we did Wednesday," Bianco said. "It's disappointing but it was also a freakish thing too. Not to relive the whole thing indepth, but two errors on bunts, a ball lost in the sun that would have been a double play, a hit-by-pitch, all of that in one inning. We just gave them so many opportunities to score, and when they started hitting they just busted it open. Credit them.
"But also in the game we struck out 13 and walked a couple, while they walked eight, hit two batters, made four errors and still beat us five runs," Bianco continued. "You don't see that much. If you told me all that, I'd say we win that ballgame. But we didn't. To their credit, they continued to play good baseball, and every time we tried to put a rally together, we couldn't. So we have to put it behind us and play well Friday night."
Ole Miss will change the pitching rotation up this weekend a bit. Friday night senior LHP Tommy Baumgardner will start, and on Saturday freshman RHP Cody Satterwhite will be on the mound. Sunday's starter is TBA. Junior RHP Nick Hetland had been the other starter through the first two weekends. Hetland could be the Sunday starter this weekend, but that is not yet determined.
"We're trying to find the right rotation," Bianco said. "We're trying to find the right three guys to win a baseball game."
Henry says these three-game series, like the one with Maine last weekend and the one with Illinois-Chicago this weekend, are important to preparing the team for upcoming Southeastern Conference series, which begin in two weeks when Vanderbilt comes to Oxford.
"We always want to have a good non-conference start to the season, but even more than that have some momentum going into conference play," Henry said. "We want to be playing well right when SEC play starts, because everyone of those games is so big. We need to get on a roll and start playing better baseball."
Henry said the Rebels haven't played their best baseball yet and have been inconsistent much of the season through eight games.
"Some days we've had 15 hits and other days five hits, so we've been inconsistent at the plate," said Henry, batting .355 so far this season, fourth best on the squad. "This team is a great hitting team and we're capable of much more than we've done so far."
*** To further inform you about this weekend's action, the following is the press release by Bill Bunting of Ole Miss athletics media relations prior to the series between UM and UI-C.
The Rebels continue a 13-game home stand to open the season this weekend when No. 18 Ole Miss (6-2) hosts the Flames of Illinois-Chicago (2-5) in a three-game series this weekend in Oxford.
First pitch of Friday's game is set for 6:30 p.m., in what is the first scheduled night game for the Rebels on the year.
Ole Miss will look to senior Tommy Baumgardner (2-0) to get things started for the Rebels on the mound Friday night. The southpaw has been consistent in back-to-back Friday starts for Ole Miss, as he has struck out 10 batters and holds a 1.38 ERA with only two runs scored in his 13.0 innings of work.
At the plate, the Rebels are led by junior Alex Presley, who has posted a .429 average and a team leading 13 RBI on the season with one home run. Presley started the season strong with a 7-for-10 performance in two games against Saint Louis and has continued to shine at the plate. Joining him leading the Rebel offense are junior Chris Coghlan, who is batting .393 for the season, and freshman Evan Button. Button has made the most of his plate appearances, hitting .778 with seven hits in nine at bats.
Illinois-Chicago enters the weekend with a 2-5 record after dropping a three-game series to then No. 17 Long Beach State.
The Flames will look to Zach Petereson (0-1, Jr., RHP, 2.08 ERA) to lead the charge on Friday. Peterson is looking to rebound from his first loss since dropping a decision on March 21, 2005. Peterson took the loss last weekend in a 5-2 loss to Long Beach State.
Jake Carr leads UIC at the plate, hitting .353 with one RBI after starting five of seven games he's played in this season. Bart Babineaux, cousin of former Rebel Charlie Babineaux, is the leading run producer, driving in 7 RBI to lead the team and posting the Flames' only home run this season.
Rebs ready to play better, win vs. UI-C
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