Lance Lynn entered today's game against UCLA with a sterling 1.23 ERA, but in the first three innings the Rebs' starting righty gave up six runs and fell behind in the count on nearly every batter.
Facing a 6-1 deficit, the Rebels used a weapon that hasn't been real prevalent this season until today - the long ball - to climb back in the game, knotting the score in the sixth frame, only to lose 7-6 to the 8-8 Bruins.
"That was a very emptional game," said Rebel Coach Mike Bianco. "We didnt' play well. It just wasn't Lance's day today and we left runners on early in the game that we didn't push across when we had the chances. We had some bad at bats early and they ended up costing us.
"We started getting some good swings in the middle innings and got some long balls from Zack Cozart, Cody Overbeck and Logan Power to tie the score. But it was too little too late - we needed those swings earlier in the game."
Ole Miss, now 12-5, could not find an answer for Bruin closer Brant Rustich, a hard-throwing righty who faced just 11 batters in three frames to shut the Rebs down at the end.
"Rustich is very good. He throws 93-94 mph with an 88 slider. That's as good as we will see and until the last inning, we did not figure him out very well," Mike noted.
The Rebels had a shot at the end with runners on the corners and one out in the bottom of the ninth, but Overbeck hit into a 5-4-3 double play to end the comeback bid. The fans did not like the call at first on Overbeck on the relay from second.
"Whether it was a bad call or not, who knows? It was a bang-bang play and we should have never been in that position to begin with," Bianco added. "It was a tough loss, but I told the guys I was proud of the way they competed and fought after getting so far down and that we will have several more games like this in the coming weeks in the SEC. Next time, we'll come out on top."
The Rebels struck early by plating one run on two hits in the first inning when SS Zack Cozart reached on a fielder's choice, took second on a balk by UCLA starter Tim Murphy and scored on a single by freshman 1B Andrew Clark.
That was all the offensive noise the Rebels would muster until the fifth inning.
Meanwhile, Lynn was having problems finding the strike zone, routinely falling behind in the count to UCLA hitters, who took advantage of the slightly-off Reb hurler.
Four singles, a walk and a wild pitch led to three Bruin runs in the top of the second and two free passes, two singles and a wild throw to second on a stolen base attempt scored three more for UCLA in the third.
Ole Miss began their comeback bid in the fifth when Power opened the inning with a 382-foot solo shot. Hot-hitting Justin Henry had a one-out single and Cozart followed with his second two-run dinger in the series. The three runs left the Rebs trailing 6-4 and the game had a new look.
Reliever Jesse Simpson pitched a shutout frame for the Rebels in the sixth and then the Rebels tacked on two runs to tie the score at 6-all in their half of the frame.
Overbeck hit a 366-foot round-tripper and Justin Henry drove in a run on a ground out to second with the bases full.
With momentum on their side, it appeared the Rebels would pull out the win, but UCLA struck for a run in the seventh off reliever Nathan Baker, who got the loss and is now 1-1 on the year. SS Brandon Crawford doubled in the leftfield gap, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a sac fly to deep right by LF Mickey Weisser.
With a 7-6 lead, UCLA put in Rustich in the seventh and the Rebs went with closer Cody Satterwhite. Both held serve and the Bruins held on for the victory to tie the series at 1-1 with the rubber match tomorrow at noon.
The Rebels, who outhit the Bruins 14-10 in the contest, will go with Brett Bukvich on the mound tomorrow.
"It shows a lot for us to battle back down 6-1, but we have to pull that out in the last inning. Our relievers and some good hitting got us back in it, but we didn't do what we had to do to win it," said Cozart, who appears to be inching out of his early slump at the plate. "We have to find a way to score that run in the last inning. We have to come out here tomorrow and find a way to win a series.
"We have to take the positives from today and keep competing. Next time, we'll find a way to come out on top in the end."
Rebs can't overcome early deficit
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