Just A Hiccup?

It was bound to happen. It does every year. It does to every team. It's baseball. Maybe this is the one hiccup. But there may be another or two before June.

No. 11 ranked Ole Miss lost two of three games to last-place Tennessee over the weekend. Everybody reading this knows that all too well by now.

Last year it was two losses out of three games in Oxford to a bottom of the conference Mississippi State team. The year before it was two losses of three to Arkansas at Swayze and two of three to end the season at Kentucky.

The year before that, 2007, it was losing two of three at Tennessee and two of three to Kentucky in Oxford. In 2006, losing all three to Kentucky in Oxford in May, a Rebel team that started the SEC season 1-5.

The season before that – 2005 and the No. 5 national seed. Lost to Alabama two of three in Oxford and lost two of three at Auburn in May.

Bottom line. There are always series disappointments. The goal is to hold it to only once, maybe twice, a season.

So now there's been one for 2010. Certainly most thought the Rebels would at least win two last weekend against the struggling Vols. Many predicted sweep.

But it was the Rebels who struggled, and the Volunteers who played like a contender.

What ultimately happened was what many had predicted on message boards and in the grandstands. If the Rebels lost either Friday or Saturday, the series as a whole would be lost. And they were right the first time it happened in SEC play.

Newest Sunday starter David Goforth said he wasn't his best against UT. But he was better for the most part than what we'd seen the past three of four weeks. The third-year sophomore righty made it into the fifth inning with just two earned runs on five hits, with three walks and four strikeouts.

David Goforth

You can live with those numbers on a Sunday – if your offense is helping. But you'd like to get a couple more innings from the starter, of course. You gotta believe they'll run Goforth out there Sunday in Athens against a Georgia Bulldog team most would predict the Rebels will beat at least twice.

But it's baseball and who knows, right? In 2004 in Athens, the Rebels arrived in first place and got swept. Two years later the Rebs returned to Athens 1-5 (see above), and swept the Bulldogs, got back in the race, moved on to win the SEC Tournament and hosted a Regional and Super Regional.

It happens. Now it's all about what happens from here on out.

The Rebels haven't been at the plate lately what they were earlier, although much of it is more about being timely and hittin' it where they ain't than not hitting at all. Like Matt Smith's 4-6-3 one-out DP with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth with the score knotted 6-6 Sunday.

There might have been some complacency last weekend. We asked the older players a little about it last week, about not taking an 0-6 SEC team lightly at home and making sure the younger players know that. But at 18, 19, 20 years old, maybe it's hard not to.

But we won't see many three error days from the Rebels like we did Sunday, although I would have scored Alex Yarbrough's late error a hit by five-hole batter Josh Liles, leading off the top of the ninth.

Yarbrough moved to his right and the ball, hit well by Liles, bounded away from him and into center. Had he stopped it and retrieved it, I'm not sure he would have been able to get the ball to first base, given that he was moving away from the bag and Liles was on the move. It would have been a heck of a play.

No matter, Liles still reached base and the Vols scored four runs in the inning to win it.

The Rebels ran themselves out of some situations early on Saturday and again on Sunday. It might have changed the course of things had they worked out.

Aaron Barrett left his team in good enough shape when he departed the contest in the seventh Saturday and the Rebels only down a run. But offensively his teammates didn't do much with just four hits to UT's 12 on the day off Barrett and Eric Callender. Matt Crouse faced two batters and didn't allow a hit.

So the Rebels faced Sunday with a must-win in order not to lose their first SEC series of the season. And the weekend ended with that hiccup you try to make sure doesn't turn into a total throwup.

Rory McKean

Maybe the most discouraging aspect of the weekend, besides not playing clean enough and having some base-running situations that didn't work out, was the relief pitching on Sunday. The numbers weren't terrible, and with Liles' hit being awarded an error to Yarbrough, they were actually pretty good – 1 earned run for Matt Tracy, 2 for Brett Huber and none for Trent Rothlin and Rory McKean.

But those are guys who have to come through if Ole Miss is to be as successful as it wants to be.

The blame for a tough series loss at home has to go somewhere. And looking back, maybe the old adage is true in this case. There was enough blame to go around in all areas of the team.

One thing's got to happen. If they lose a Friday or Saturday game the rest of the way, they have to somehow believe they can win on Sunday.

Because they are likely going to lose again on Friday or Saturday at some point. And Sunday will again become the key to the weekend.


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