By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
HOOVER, Ala. – When Ole Miss arrived for the SEC baseball tournament for the first time since 2010, the Rebels found things looking a lot like Nashville.
The run-scoring problems that haunted the Rebels in three losses at Vanderbilt were prevalent again Tuesday morning in the first round of the SEC’s when Ole Miss lost 2-0 to Kentucky before a sparse gathering at Regions Park.
The Rebels scored just five runs in the Vanderbilt series. Going back to the last two innings of a 10-5 loss at Arkansas State, Ole Miss has been shutout twice and has scored just five runs in its last 38 innings.
Kentucky freshman A.J. Reed, making his fifth start of the season and first against an SEC opponent, scattered five hits, walked one and struck out three in 52/3 innings.
He was backed by Taylor Rogers, the Wildcats’ (42-15) Friday night starter, who gave up two hits in 31/3 innings.
The Rebels will take on Arkansas in an elimination game this morning at 9:30.
Kentucky coach Gary Henderson wanted his use of Rogers to send a message to his players.
“I really wanted him on the mound if we had a lead. I thought the ballpark and the opposition matched up well for him, and I wanted to make a statement to our guys that we were going to run our Friday night guy out there to win,” he said.
The Rebels (34-23) had eight first-pitch outs, two in the fourth inning when Reed threw only five pitches.
There were also first-pitch hits, three of them by Matt Snyder, who went 4 for 4 on the day, more than half of the seven Ole Miss hits.
In the end nothing worked. The Rebels reached third base three times, twice in the sixth when Snyder, the first to get there, was caught in a rundown for the second out. He stayed alive long enough for Auston Bousfield and John Gatlin to make it to third and second, but Preston Overbey grounded out.
“We don’t look like ourselves over the last three or four games,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “It’s in us to be good, but it’s got to come out.”
Ole Miss starter Bobby Wahl allowed just two runs in six innings, one of them a solo home run by Reed, who also had four of his team’s seven hits.
As it turned out that was all the offense the Wildcats needed, though they added timely hitting in the sixth when six-hole hitter Cameron Flynn poked a single past Snyder at first to score a run from third.
“They threw strikes, and we didn’t attack the way we should have,” Snyder said. “They threw a lot of first-pitch fastballs, and guys fouled them off or weren’t ready for them. Obviously that’s something we need to get better at.”
Ole Miss will throw sophomore right-hander Mike Mayers (4-3, 3.84), and Arkansas is expected to start right-hander D.J. Baxendale (7-3, 3.14).
Today’s starter, Mayers, gave up just two hits in 61/3 innings in a 1-0 Ole Miss win over Arkansas at Swayze Field on April 21. R.J. Hively came behind Mayers and pitched 22/3 scoreless innings to complete the shutout and clinch the series.