The Ragin’ Cajuns’ offense got to the Rebels’ arms early and often and put Ole Miss’ season on the brink.
Top-ranked UL-Lafayette knocked off Ole Miss 9-5 in the first game of the Lafayette Super Regional Saturday night at “Tigue” Moore Field. The Cajuns (58-8) got some help from Ole Miss’ pitching and defense to erase an early deficit and added on throughout, outscoring the 12th-ranked Rebels (44-19) 8-2 from the third inning on.
Game 2 is Sunday at 8 p.m. If Ole Miss wins, a third and decisive game will played on Monday at 6 p.m.
“Disappointing from our part that we didn’t play better,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “I felt like we played poorly and gave them too many opportunities. That’s too good of a team, too good of an offense to give that many opportunities to.”
UL-Lafayette starter Adam Robichaux (8-3) allowed each run but yielded just two two after the second inning. The right-hander scattered seven hits while fanning four and walking three in seven innings for the win. He went much longer than his counterpart, Ole Miss right-hander Chris Ellis (10-2), who lasted just 2.1 innings in the loss.
Ole Miss’ offense handed its ace a 3-0 lead in the second when Preston Overbey and Errol Robinson delivered back-to-back RBI singles and Auston Bousfield drove in Overbey with a sac fly. UL-Lafayette got one back in the home half of the frame with some help when Bousfield dropped a fly ball in shallow center, allowing Tyler Girouard to score.
The Cajuns got even more assistance in the third from Ellis, who struggled to find his command. Ellis fell behind each batter he faced in the inning, sandwiching a hit batter around a pair of walks to load the bases with nobody out. Blake Trahan’s groundout brought home another run before Girouard lined a 3-1 pitch over the wall in right to put the Cajuns up 5-3.
“Throwing strikes,” Ellis said. “I had a little trouble with that. Kind of got myself in a lot of trouble.”
Girouard was the last batter for Ellis, who gave up four earned runs, walked three and struck out two in his second shortest outing of the year. It was only the second time this season the Rebels’ ace yielded more than three earned runs.
“I thought he lost command there and lost a little bit of his composure,” Bianco said of Ellis. “It happens, but it hasn’t happened to him all year. You see it a lot from guys. Sometimes all of a sudden, they just lose their rhythm.”
Left-hander Jeremy Massie came on and gave up two hits and committed a balk to allow another run to score before getting out of the inning. Braxton Lee cut into the Cajuns’ lead with an RBI double in the fourth, and Will Allen singled home Bousfield in the seventh, but UL-Lafayette had opened up a five-run lead by then.
The Cajuns tallied 11 hits and improved to 26-0 when scoring at least nine runs. Girouard went 2-for-4 with three RBIs. Dylan Butler had a solo homer while Blake Trahan and Seth Harrison each drove in a run. Lee and Bousfield had two hits apiece for Ole Miss.
With its season on the line, Ole Miss can’t let the loss linger.
“We’ve bounced back all year, and I don’t expect anything less from us,” Bousfield said. “I think we’ll be ready to go tomorrow.” (June 7, 2014)