Evening Things Up

Aaron Barrett pitched arguably his best game yet as a Rebel and got the run support Drew Pomeranz didn't on Friday night. Ole Miss evened the series with Louisville with an 8-3 win Saturday afternoon.

After Barrett gave up a hit in the top of the first inning but no runs, the Rebels (12-3) gave their starter tons of support early. Barrett was appreciative.

"It helps when the offense puts up six runs the first two innings," said Barrett after the Rebels scored two in the first and four in the second. "(Kevin) Mort and (Alex) Yarbrough turned big double plays for me early in the game, and the offense just came out swinging."

The senior right-hander pitched 6.2 innings, allowing three earned runs on six hits with nine strikeouts and four walks.

"My fast ball command wasn't what I wanted it to be today," Barrett said. "At the same time you just have to go out there and just keep battling. Even when you don't have your best stuff, just go out there and try to make pitches."

"That's really the difference in him this year and him last year," Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said. "He's just really competing on the mound. His fast ball wasn't as alive as it normally is, and he lost a little bit of his command in the middle innings. But he pitched really sharp in the beginning, and in the middle he just gutted it out. He just grinded it out and didn't allow a team that really swings it to put the inning together. He pitched out of some jams and had a really good slider today. Then at the end the last couple of innings I thought he was really sharp again."

The Rebels were mostly sharp the whole day in handing the Cardinals (13-1) their first loss of the year. They basically cruised after the first two innings of scoring.

In the bottom of the first, Tim Ferguson flew out to right to score Alex Yarbrough who had walked in the leadoff spot. Matt Smith grounded out to score Taylor Hashman who had doubled and moved to third on Ferguson's fly ball.

At 2-0, the Rebels had just begun. When Barrett took care of the Cardinals again in the top of the second, the four-run bottom of the second proved Ole Miss had come to play.

"We all just decided to come out swinging today," said Hashman, making his second start of the season. "Obviously we put up six runs the first two innings, but we had the same approach as we did yesterday. We were hitting the ball hard yesterday but just right at them. Today luckily they were just falling."

Ole Miss outhit Louisville 11-10. Four of the Cardinals' hits came off reliever Eric Callender, who pitched 2.1 innings allowing no runs with a couple of strikeouts. He gave up three hits in the top of the ninth to load the bases but got out of it with no damage to end it.

"He just continued to come in at the end and just fill it up," Bianco said of the junior righty. "Good fast ball. Good slider. He was excellent."

After the Rebels got up 6-0, Louisville added a run in the fourth. Ole Miss added one in the fifth when Zach Miller doubled and moved to the next two stations via fly balls from teammates David Phillips and Miles Hamblin to make it 7-1.

Louisville closed the gap to 7-3 in the top of the seventh, and the Rebels were able to add a run in the bottom of the seventh in the strangest of fashions.

With Zach Miller aboard on a base on balls, Phillips sent one to the center field wall that few in the stadium could tell was a home run or not. It appeared the ball could have gone over the wall or been caught by the U of L center fielder Drew Haynes, who hit the deck and didn't move quickly.

The umpires froze too, apparently not able to make a call because they either could not figure out if the ball had been caught or went over.

Phillips awaited things just past first base as Miller headed back to first after he had already passed second. As Miller passed back by Phillips, it meant, in essence, Phillips had passed Miller on the base paths. Phillips headed to the dugout, and Miller was awarded a run scored. The ruling, crazy as it sounds, was not a home run but a single for Phillips and an unassisted play by the second baseman, who obviously never touched the baseball.

Ole Miss led 8-3 and until Louisville threatened in the top of the ninth, it appeared the margin would not have mattered. After Callender got them out to end it, it ultimately didn't.

Here is a lengthy and thorough explanation of the play by Bianco, who protested at the time to the umpires concerning the play:

"I lost my composure a little bit. But it's frustrating, and it's an expensive lesson for Zach and David. You don't do what they did. You don't pass the runner. You don't run off the field. You wait when you're not sure. You just stand there. And you make sure you don't allow that to happen. I'm disappointed for David because it cost him a home run. But fortunately for us, it happened in a game where it really didn't matter. It's one of those where you've seen it once, and then you remember. You don't let that happen again. It's a tough call for the umpires. Nobody knew. Nobody knew if he caught it or not. The disappointing thing is there's no reason to do what we did. Because there's no ball. It's different if the ball hits that camera (in center field) and bounces back. Now there's a live ball in the field and you don't want to get tagged out. So you're running for your life to be safe and you don't know which way to go. But there's no ball and there should be no fear. So just don't pass each other and wait for the umpire to make a call. So we learned a lesson today."

Sophomore RHP Tony Zych (0-0, 10.12 ERA) will start for the Cardinals Sunday. Ole Miss junior LHP Matt Tracy (1-0, 1.08 ERA) makes his first weekend start for the Rebels.

Sunday's game is scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m.

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