Baseball: Rebs rally past Vanderbilt

Nashville, Tenn. - Fielding mishaps cost the No. 23 Commodores an early lead in a 6-2 loss to the No. 6 Ole Miss Rebels Friday at Hawkins Field. The start of the game was delayed 74-minutes because of daylong rain which finally gave way to a damp and breezy night. Ole Miss is now 21-5, 5-2 in the SEC, while Vanderbilt owns an 18-7 record, 3-4 in the SEC. Vanderbilt committed three errors in the first game of the three-game series.

The Commodore bats started hot, with the first three hitters logging two singles, a double and one run scored. Ole Miss starter Mark Holliman, ninth in the SEC in strikeouts with 44, picked off Antoan Richardson who reached on a single on the first pitch of the game. Mike Baxter doubled down the right field line off right-handed pitcher Holliman scoring Rucker Taylor for the Commodore's first inning run.

The Rebels got the run back in the fourth when rightfielder Brian Pettway singled to left off Vanderbilt starter Jensen Lewis to score second baseman Cooper Osteen. The run was unearned. Lewis entered the game 5-0 with 40.1 innings pitched, 40 strikeouts and an ERA of 0.89.

Vanderbilt escaped a one-out jam in the fifth when Alex Feinberg caught a line drive and dove to tag Alex Presley who was racing to get back to third base for the double play. Feinberg, a freshman, got his second start at third base in place of senior Tony Mansolino, who will miss the Ole Miss series with a muscle sprain in his abdomen. Hitting a team-high .381, each of Feinberg's previous starts had been as designated hitter until taking over at third in the Jacksonville State game. Prior to missing that game, Mansolino had missed only one start in his four-year career.

In the bottom of the fifth, hot-hitting catcher Brian Hernandez doubled to right-center to score Baxter, who reached on a bunt and stole second on the previous pitch.

In the sixth, Lewis let the first two Ole Miss batters reach base via a single and a walk. A mishandled chopper to first by Baxter loaded the bases. After a visit to the mound by Assistant Coach Derek Johnson, Lewis struck out the next two batters. Alex Presley followed with a two-out single to shallow left that scored two unearned runs, giving the Rebels a 3-2 lead. Lewis would come out of the game in the seventh after allowing two singles to center and a sacrifice bunt. With runners on the corner and one out, lefty Stephen Shao came in from left field to pitch, and Aaron Garza came off the bench to take over at left. Rebel third baseman Chris Coghlan singled to shallow left field, scoring catcher Barry Gunther. The earned run was charged to Lewis, who struck out eight and walked one over 6.1 innings. His ERA following the game was 0.96.

Richardson was hit by a pitch to start the Commodore half of the seventh, but was caught stealing second. It was the first time this season he was caught in 12 attempts.

The Rebels would score once in the eighth, and with one out and runners on second and third, Matt Buschmann took over for Shao in the ninth. He struck out the first batter he faced and walked Presley to load the bases. A grounder to first ended the inning. Shao pitched two innings, gave up five hits, two earned runs and struck out one. In Buschmann's second appearance in relief this season, he pitched .2 innings, walked one, struck out one and gave up no runs.

Four Commodores accounted for VU's eight hits. Taylor had three, followed by Baxter and Hernandez with two each and Richardson with one.

Holliman improves to 4-1, while Lewis recorded his first loss of the season and is now 5-1.

Game two of the series is scheduled for noon tomorrow. Prior to the game, the Commodores will honor the late Charles Hawkins, the stadium's namesake.


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