Rebs fall 8-2; lose series at LSU

BATON ROUGE, La. - Jordan Henry's big brother Justin wiped out Jordan's first-pitch-of-the-game single by hitting into a double play. Rebel shoulders didn't slump too bad then, not even after All-American candidate Zack Cozart flew out to right.

Whether it carried over to the bottom of the first or not is arguable, but LSU got all the runs they'd need in this one in that early half inning, scoring three runs. They'd get a lot more and roll to an 8-2 victory to take the series. The Tigers won 4-3 Friday night. Ole Miss hasn't won a baseball series against LSU in Baton Rouge since 1982.

"Very disppointing. A disappointing effort from the way we competed," said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco after his 13th-ranked Rebels fell to 24-13 overall and 7-7 in Southeastern Conference play. "We don't let that happen very often. Score-wise it was our worst loss of the year. It just got out of hand early and we did nothing offensively. It blew up in the first inning and exploded after that. We did nothing to put any pressure on them offensively."

In some ways that's become the trademark of this team. Pitching has often been there, and defense is normally solid. But offensively this Rebel team continues to struggle as the season nears its halfway point.

"After last night we needed to come out and play well today. But we played pretty terrible," said a dejected team captain Justin Henry. "Couldn't get any hits. Couldn't score any runs. Couldn't do anything out there today. It was pretty bad."

Chris Jackson led off the bottom of the first with a double, followed by a bunt from Jared Mitchell to the left of the pitcher's mound that no Rebel could touch. Blake Dean then hit the first pitch he saw over Zack Cozart's head, and the race was on. Jackson came in to score, and Mike Bianco headed to the mound to visit with Lynn. The Rebel pitcher got cleanup hitter Sean Ochinko to ground out, but he hit Ryan Schimpf to load the bases.

Picking up where Rebel pitching had left off the night before when Scott Bittle walked in the winning run after the batter right before had been intentionally walked, Lynn walked in Robert Lara on four straight pitches. Nicholas Pontiff grounded out to second baseman Zach Miller for an unassisted out at first, but Dean scored. Lynn struck out Chris McGhee with runners on second and third or things would have gotten out of hand even earlier.

After that, Lynn settled down and pitched better. He came out in the sixth after allowing five earned runs on the day with seven hits, seven strikeouts and four walks.

The Rebels got a solo home run from Cody Overbeck in the second to make it 3-1. It was 8-1 Tigers before Ole Miss added another run in the top of the ninth.

Rodriguez relieved Lynn and went two/thirds of an inning allowing two earned runs on three hits with a walk and no strikeouts. Jesse Simpson finished the game for the Rebs, going an inning and two-thirds with an earned run and two hits with no walks or strikeouts.

"That first inning they put good swings on some balls and it blew up, but that happens," Lynn said. "You have to counter it. I had a little trouble funneling it in there. I had good stuff today. I struggled a little with the fast ball. I was missing up today.

LSU left-hander Ryan Byrd (5-1) pitched a seven-hit complete game, striking out three and walking none.

"Give him credit. He threw a complete game. He was pretty good, but it was nothing we hadn't seen before," Justin said. "He was throwing 85-86 (mph) from the left side, and he did an allright job of hitting his spots. But that's no excuse. We've got to a better job swinging the bats. We have to do something to get some runs in. It's just not looking very good right now."

Even if they lose Sunday, Ole Miss will match its SEC record the last two seasons at the halfway mark of league play at 7-8. Those two teams ultimately hosted Super Regionals. Bianco said tomorrow is an important game.

"You have to rely on competing," he said. "If you're as good as you're supposed to be, then if you compete, it will eventually happen for you. You have to win tomorrow. You have hiccups in this league, but you have to stay away from the sweep and not let it get out of hand."

Henry said the Rebels have to become more productive.

"I can't remember the last time we scored more than one run in an inning," he said. "We can't string anything together, and that's what it takes. I can't remember the last time we scored three runs in an inning. They (LSU) scored three in the first and we haven't done that in I don't know how long."

Three for LSU in that opening frame was plenty, and the Tigers, 21-15-1 and 6-7-1, roared to the series win.

Game three is set for 1 p.m. Sunday. The Rebels will send freshman left-hander Nathan Baker (4-1, 2.90) to the mound. He pitched the Rebs to a 9-0 win last Sunday over Georgia at home. The Tigers will send freshman right-hander T.J. Forrest (1-1, 2.84 ERA).

"We're excited about Nathan, and hopefully we'll get another good outing," Bianco said. "We certainly have a lot of confidence in him."

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