In front of the third-largest crowd in Pete Taylor Park’s history, the Golden Eagles dropped their second meeting against Ole Miss 6-2, giving the Golden Eagles their second losing streak of the year.
“Tonight we didn’t play the defensive side well and we didn’t hit well,” said Head Coach Scott Berry. “Four of their six runs were scored off of errors or defensive mistakes. We did not have that sense of urgency early in the game to pressure them.”
In spite of Southern Miss’ pitching staff accumulating 16 strikeouts, the Golden Eagle bats were kept in check with only four hits.
After remaining scoreless in the first inning, the Rebels struck first after a leadoff double from Ryan Olenek. One batter later, Olenek scored on a wild pitch from second base to put Ole Miss up 1-0.
The Golden Eagles attempted to answer after getting a leadoff walk in the bottom of the second. Ole Miss’ Greer Holston soon clamped down by striking out the next two Golden Eagle batters. USM’s LeeMarcus Boyd followed with the Golden Eagles first hit of the game by singling up the middle to keep the inning alive. Yet, as quick as the Golden Eagles found life, Dylan Burdeaux grounded out to retire the side.
Starting pitcher Taylor Braley ran into pitching trouble after he allowed a walk and a double to start the fourth inning. After Braley recorded another strikeout, Ole Miss’s Nick Fortes grounded out scoring the Rebel’s second run before the inning ended.
Despite some minor hiccups, Braley allowed two earned runs on five hits and threw a career-high 12 strikeouts in 6.2 innings pitched. As relief pitcher Colt Smith finished out the seventh inning for Braley, the Rebels scored again on an error to extend their lead, 3-0.
The Rebels continued to find offensive success after Smith walked the leadoff batter. Smith almost salvaged the inning by striking out the next two Ole Miss batters, but Fortes hit his second RBI on Ole Miss’ fourth double of the night putting the Rebels up 4-0.
In the eighth inning, the Golden Eagles almost found life on a leadoff single from Burdeaux, which also extended his hitting streak to 11 games. However, the Golden Eagles missed out on the opportunity to score as they closed the inning with two back-to-back strikeouts from Matt Wallner and Hunter Slater.
The Rebels tacked on two more runs in the top of the ninth inning on a two-out, two-run home run.
Ole Miss relief pitcher Brady Feigl gave up a single to Cole Donaldson to lead the bottom of the ninth inning. Donaldson later scored on a wild pitch and Casey Maack, who was walked, scored on a throwing error from Burdeaux’s single. Yet, the two-run rally was not enough as Mason Irby struck out looking to finish the game.
“We got to do a better job of pressuring people,” Berry said. “We got to learn from it. We have a double dose and we got to get ourselves ready to compete on Friday.”
The Golden Eagles return to action against Rice on April 14 in Houston.