By Chase Parham/Special to the Journal
OXFORD – Ole Miss starting pitcher Trent Rothlin retired Florida in order during the first inning, drawing a roaring ovation from the crowd of 6,116 and providing hope that this one might be different for the Rebels
But it wasn’t. For the Rebels, it was just a same ole Sunday.
No. 2 Florida (18-5, 4-2) salvaged the final game of the set and kept Ole Miss’ streak of sub-par series finales intact, as the Gators battered five different Rebel pitchers and stifled the UM offense for a 13-1 win.
No. 18 Ole Miss (19-6, 4-2) won 3-2 on Friday and 15-3 on Saturday.
“It’s disappointing even if you still win two,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “It’s miserable. We did nothing today to help us.”
As successful as the Rebels have been early on each weekend, Ole Miss has now dropped four straight Sunday games and allowed 45 combined runs in the process. Rothlin and Matt Tracy were the latest victims.
Rothlin lasted only two innings, and he gave up four runs on four hits. Tracy was the first reliever but yielded four runs of his own in just 1 2/3 innings. Both pitchers have two losses during the streak of Sunday struggles.
“On days like this, you have to make better pitches,” Bianco said. “Somebody has to give us a shot. Somebody has to stop them. That’s the message. You can’t play like this. You can’t get beat up once a week.”
Meanwhile, Florida starter Brian Johnson couldn’t relate to the mound trouble. A day after being scratched 15 minutes prior to first pitch, the freshman cruised for 5 1/3 innings for his second win. Johnson scattered four hits, with his lone blemish a Matt Smith RBI groundout to score Kevin Mort in the sixth inning.
The majority of the talk has been about the poor Sunday pitching showings, but Ole Miss’ offense hasn’t been effective against opponents’ third starters either. Over that four-game stretch, the Rebels have are averaging only four runs per game.
“I was frustrated all day,” Ole Miss outfielder Tim Ferguson said. “It was everything. It was the pitchers and the hitters. Coach (Bianco) said we gave up, and he’s right. It got to 6-0, and we shut it down.”
Daniel Pigott and Austin Maddox both had three RBI for the Gators.
The Rebels return to action Tuesday against Mississippi State in Pearl for the annual Governor’s Cup game.