Rebels fall in Game 1 of super regional
LAFAYETTE, La. — Near perfect is what the Ole Miss Rebels had to be in order to win Game 1 of the Lafayette Super Regional Saturday night. With ace Chris Ellis on the mound, and an offense ranked at the top of the SEC, Ole Miss baseball coach Mike Bianco had to like his team’s chances against the Ragin’ Cajuns.
A 3-0 lead may have given the Rebels confidence early, but it dissolved as Ellis was unable to match his teammates success at the plate. In the end, mistakes cost the Rebels, who lost 9-5 to UL-L in the opener.
Auston Bousfield’s uncharacteristic error in the second inning cost the Rebels (44-19) a run, while Ellis’ inability to deliver pitches like he had most of the season continued the spiral downward.
“You got to be careful after you lose, but I’d like to give credit to Louisiana-Lafayette. I thought they played very well tonight. I thought Austin Robichaux, after maybe struggling in the first couple of innings, really found himself and got deep into the game, which you want from your ace,” Bianco said. “It was disappointing from our part in that we didn’t play better. I felt like we played poorly and gave them too many opportunities. They’re too good of a team, too good of an offense to give that many opportunities.”
Ellis walked one batter in the second that ended up scoring and then walked two more in the third inning, while hitting a batter, to give the Ragin’ Cajuns (58-8) new life. Ellis’ inability to command his pitches in the strike zone compounded when he gave up a three-run home run to Tyler Girouard in the third to put the Ragin’ Cajuns ahead for good.
Ellis, who was drafted in the third round by the L.A. Angels in the recent MLB Draft, said throwing strikes was an issue for him.
“I had a little trouble with that and I got myself into a lot of trouble,” said Ellis, who was lifted after the home run with an out in the third.
Bousfield said he got underneath the ball hit by Seth Harrison before hitting his glove in the second.
“I went up for it and it bounced out. I didn’t catch it and I have to do a better job,” Bousfield said adding the team has bounced back from losses all year. “I don’t expect anything less from us. I think we’ll be ready to go (Sunday).”
Ellis said the drop didn’t effect the way he pitched the remaining time he was on the mound.
“That will probably never happen again in his career. We had a three-run lead and that got them a run. I struck the next guy out, so it seemed like it was fine,” Ellis said.
Bianco felt like Lafayette’s aggressive style of offense, that features a lot of bunting as well as power hitting, was tough to face.
“You don’t see this type of offense much and I don’t think it’s playing in the SEC. There are people that play a short game, but not like that. They’ve got a lot of good hitters in their lineup and they handle a lot of different pitches,” Bianco said. “I don’t think people give enough credit to just how well they do hit. I think the key tonight, and again you have to be careful, is I don’t want to take anything from them. They beat us. They got 11 hits, but I just felt like we gave them too many opportunities. That’s what we talked about all week is to limit their opportunities and if you do that, you obviously have a much better shot
“We drop a fly ball and they score a run. We walk a guy, hit a guy, walk a guy to start the next inning and those three guys score and then we walk another guy in. Then we don’t field a bunt and give them an extra base runner. So not only does that give them an extra base runner, but it’s one less out when that home run was hit,” Bianco added. “You can’t do that against most teams, but certainly not against that offense.”
Ole Miss never got closer than two runs the rest of the way after the third inning. Lafayette then put the game away with three runs in the fifth inning, one coming on a solo home run from Dylan Butler. The Ragin’ Cajuns finished with 11 hits overall, while Ole Miss had 10.
Braxton Lee had an RBI triple in the fourth for the Rebels, while Sikes Orvis started the three-run second with a lead-off double. Preston Overbey and Errol Robinson followed up with RBI singles in the frame. Ole Miss’ final run int he seventh inning was driven in on a single by Will Allen.
Austin Robichaux (8-3) earned the victory on the mound for the Ragin’ Cajuns. He was also drafted by the Angels, joining Ellis, Saturday, a couple of hours before the game as his, UL-L head coach Tony Robichaux, filled out the starting lineup.
Game 2 of the super regional will begin at 8 tonight. The game can be seen locally on ESPN2, and heard locally on 93.7 FM.
Below are the post-game comments of Bianco and Robichaux.