It just was not Ole Miss’ night on Thursday. Junior ace Brady Bramlett uncharacteristically struggled and big hits never came as it stranded 11 runners on the night. All of this amounted to the Rebels dropping the opening game of a three-game series to South Carolina 5-1.
Bramlett got in front of the game’s opening batter 0-2 before delivering eight straight balls to put two on for South Carolina to begin the game. It would prove costly as both would score on singles from Alex Destino and Jonah Bride in a two-run opening frame for the Gamecocks.
“I just didn’t have my best stuff tonight,” Bramlett said. “But credit them. They have a great lineup, and they’re a club that comes out swinging, just one of those nights.”
South Carolina would add another in the second inning when Gene Cone sent a two-out solo home run into the Gamecock bullpen to make it a 3-0 game.
“Any time that I am throwing , the objective is to pound the strike zone like normal, but with them they’re an aggressive club,” Bramlett said.
Ole Miss got one back in the bottom half of the third on an RBI single to right field from J.B. Woodman that plated Will Golsan to make it a 3-1 game. After that, it was a much different story. Ole Miss got just that one run on 11 hits and stranded its lone walk. The hits were there tonight, but the big one never came.
“Really, it came down today to the timely hit,” Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said. “They got all the big hits. I’m saying that as a compliment, not as an excuse. We didn’t get any big hits. We got a lot of good hits, but we needed the big hit to get us back in the game.”
Four of those 11 hits came from junior catcher Henri Lartigue who was 4-4 on the night.
“I’m just really trying to focus through the middle of the field, and trying to have a quality at bat,” Lartigue said. “Not exactly get a hit, but to try to have an at bat that’s going to help our team win the game.”
It did not help that South Carolina ace Clayton Schmidt was filling up the strike zone. Schmidt went 6.2 innings, allowing that lone run on eight hits and struck out ten without issuing a walk. He threw 112 pitches, and 77 of those were strikes.
“He didn’t walk a guy, and when no free base runners are out there, and you’ve gotta earn every bit of it,” Lartigue said. “He’s in the strike zone, he was able to command, and he’s got good stuff. He’s a Friday night guy, and all of those guys have good stuff, so that can be tough at times.”
The Gamecocks added a run in the fifth on an RBI single from Dom Thompson-Williams.
Ole Miss had its opportunities after that, and it finally ran Schmidt out of the game in the seventh, but could not ever capitalize. South Carolina added one more run in the 9th and wrapped up the 5-1 win with a scoreless last frame reliever Josh Reagan.
Ole Miss will have a chance to even the series tomorrow in game two as it sends out junior right hander Chad Smith.
“The great thing about baseball is that you get to play again tomorrow, so we are going to come back and try to do that,” Lartigue said.
First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m.