Another Sunday Setback

Ole Miss battled but Louisville came out on top as the Rebels fell 10-8 in game three Sunday. The two teams split games the first two days.

The Cardinals (14-1) scored two in the first inning as did the Rebels. But the visitors kept scoring and led 7-2 by the time Ole Miss got any more runs in the bottom of the fifth.

The Rebels (12-4) closed the gap to two runs in the bottom of the ninth and had the tying run at the plate when the game ended.

"Unlike last Sunday (at Tulane, a 12-4 UM loss), we came back offensively and gave ourselves a chance today," Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said. "Credit Louisville. They were very, very aggressive. Today they seemed locked in and got so many good swings off. We had difficulty stopping them."

The troubling stat for the Rebels the last two Sundays is not only the number of runs given up but also the number of hits. Tulane had 20 last Sunday and today Louisville had 16.

Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell said the quick start, even though Ole Miss answered, was a key.

"It was much needed," he said. "Yesterday they jumped on us, but we battled back and we made them work for it. Today it looked like we were going to pull away and they battled back and made us work for it with our best arms down the stretch. We ran out three of our top bullpen guys."

Matt Smith's two-run homer in the bottom of the first had pulled Ole Miss even at 2-2. Ole Miss starter Matt Tracy was chased in the fifth as the Cards were going through a three-run frame. The junior left-hander went 4.2 innings, allowing seven runs, six earned, on 10 hits with one walk but no strikeouts.

Former Sunday starter Trent Rothlin worked two-thirds of an inning but had a hard time of it, allowing three earned runs on three hits with one walk and no strikeouts.

The Rebels didn't record their first strikeout of a Cardinal batter until sophomore left-hander Matt Crouse came in in the sixth to relieve Rothlin. He made it through 1.1 innings, and along with three strikeouts gave up no runs on two hits with a walk.

Ole Miss closed the gap to 10-6 in the sixth. When Crouse ran into a little trouble in the seventh, Bianco went with closer David Goforth who held the Cards the rest of the way with no further damage.

"I wish we'd done a little more early," Bianco said. "But (Cards starter Tony) Zych was tough and throwing the ball hard. It was difficult to get the bat around early. It would have been nice to push a run or two across, maybe get him out and get into the bullpen earlier."

Zych (1-0) was the winner and the righty went six innings allowing six runs on eight hits with four strikeouts and no walks. Three additional Louisville pitchers combined to give up only two runs the rest of the way.

Matt Smith doubled with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to give the Rebels a chance. But Zach Miller grounded out to end it.

"Coach (Bianco) was really proud of us for fighting back," centerfielder Tim Ferguson said. "If we learned anything from this weekend, it was that we could come back."

McDonnell said it was a solid weekend for his ballclub, and just what it needed at this point in the season.

"Coming into this type of environment, I knew it was a great challenge for our kids," the former Ole Miss assistant coach said. "This was a Regional-type atmosphere. I learned from Mike (Bianco) that you need one of these type weekends before conference play. So this was good for us."

The Rebels host Arkansas-Pine Bluff Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. Bianco was not ready to name a starting pitcher as of Sunday afternoon.

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