BY JOHN LUKE MCCORD
No. 21 Ole Miss scored two seventh-inning runs to take a 2-1 lead, but Kentucky answered back with two runs in the eighth to retake the lead and secure the 3-2 win and take a the first of a three-game series last night from Oxford-University Field/Swayze Field.
“Not a very good night for us, I didn’t think we played very well,” head coach Mike Bianco said following the loss. You have to credit (Kentucky left-handed starter A.J.) Reed. We couldn’t get to his fastball for whatever reason. We looked different than we have the last couple of weeks.”
Going into the contest, Ole Miss (30-13, 10-9 Southeastern Conference) had won six consecutive SEC games, while the Wildcats (25-16, 8-11 SEC) had lost seven straight contests.
Kentucky jumped out in front in the first inning with a solo home run from center fielder Austin Cousino off Rebels’ junior right-hander Bobby Wahl.
Wahl wasn’t as dominate at he has been this season, but he didn’t allow the Wildcats’ offense to extend the lead, allowing just the one run on four hits with a walk and three strikeouts in seven innings.
“I pitched terribly tonight. I didn’t have my stuff tonight,” Wahl said. “It’s frustrating. I didn’t have the edge early on. I cost my team a chance to win.”
His competitor Reed was just as good, not allowing Ole Miss to capitalize until the seventh.
In that frame, senior third baseman Andrew Mistone, who went 2-for-4 on the night, reached second on a throwing error to start the inning. After a sacrifice bunt moved him to third, freshman second baseman Christian Helsel battled Reed, finally getting a sacrifice fly to tie the game.
Junior designated hitter Will Allen then got a two-out single before a pitching change was made. Sophomore Austin Knight pinch hit and drew a walk before freshman Cameron Dishon, who pinch ran for Allen, scored on an infield single from senior left fielder Tanner Mathis to give Ole Miss a 2-1 lead.
Junior right-hander Aaron Greenwood started the eight and gave up two hits and a walk to load the bases with no outs. The Wildcats scored two runs on ground balls to retake the lead and secure the 3-2 win.
With the loss, Ole Miss fell to 6-8 against lefties this season. Kentucky will start left-handers in both remaining games in the series.
“It’s a huge test. It’s no secret. Everybody knows our record against lefties,” Mathis said. “We have to come out and compete better than we did.”
Game two of the series will be tonight at 6:30 p.m. Kentucky will be throwing Jerad Grundy, who is 5-4 with a 4.43 ERA. The series finale will be on Saturday at 2:15 p.m. The Wildcats will be throwing Corey Littrell who is 4-3 with a 3.20 ERA.