OXFORD, Miss. - The Rebels rallied twice after an early deficit, but it wasn't enough to overtake an aggressive Redhawk team as No. 16 Ole Miss (7-2) fell to Miami (OH) (4-3) by a score of 9-8 on Friday night in the series opener.
Trailing by seven runs after 2.5 innings of play, thanks in large part to four Rebel errors, Ole Miss mounted a furious rally over the course of the next three innings to tie the score at seven. Miami had an answer to the Rebel run, however, pushing two more runs across the plate in the sixth to take the lead for good.
Ole Miss would score a run in the seventh to cut the lead to one, but couldn't get a second run to even the score again.
Freshman right-hander Casey Mulholland (0-1) suffered the loss in relief, giving up the two runs in the sixth inning on three hits. Starter Bobby Wahl worked 5.0 innings, allowing seven runs - three of them earned - with two walks and seven strikeouts.
Joe Neff (1-0) picked up the win in relief for the Redhawks, allowing one run on one hit with a walk and a strikeout in 1.1 innings of work. Neff entered the game in the fifth inning and was on the mound when Miami took the lead for good to earn the win.
Nathan Williams picked up his first save of the season, working the final 2.2 innings, allowing two hits and striking out five.
"It was a hard day at the ball park," said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. "You have to give credit to Miami, I thought they did great. They were the aggressor tonight. We couldn't get out of the third inning; they put a lot of pressure on us. We didn't handle the pressure. We didn't make some plays or handle some pitches. One more play or one more pitch and we might have gotten away with a lot less damage.
"We thought we could come back offensively," Bianco said. "It is one thing to think that way and to feel that way but it is another thing to actually do it. We came back and tied it up but you have to give them the credit, they got the hits and their closer kept us at bay."
Miami got on the board in the second inning, pushing a run home when Alex Johnson scored on a single from John Crummy. Johnson reached on a single to right, but a throwing error to first from right fielder Tanner Mathis allowed Johnson to go to third. He then scored on the grounder through the left side from Crummy before the Rebels could get out of the inning.
The Redhawks continued to build on the lead in the third inning, capitalizing on three more Rebel errors , combined with three hits, a walk and a hit batter to push six more runs across the plate and take a 7-0 lead.
Ole Miss answered in the bottom of the third, kicking things off with back-to-back hit batters to put Senquez Golson and Blake Newalu on base. Golson scored a batter later on a single through the left side from Tanner Mathis and the Rebel rally began.
The Rebels loaded the bases with Auston Bousfield notched a single before a double from Alex Yarbrough scored Newalu and Mathis. A wild pitch then scored Bousfield from third and put Yarbrough at third before the junior second baseman would come home on a ground ball into a double play from Andrew Mistone to cut the lead to 7-5.
Ole Miss would add a single run in both the fourth and fifth inning to tie the game at seven before the Redhawks would answer with their two-run sixth inning to reclaim the lead.
The Rebels got their final run of the game in the seventh inning off a single up the middle from Yarbrough to score Mathis. The rally ended there, however as Ole Miss could not get another run home and the Miami bullpen kept the home team off the board down the stretch.
The Rebels and Redhawks will take the field again for game two of the weekend series at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field.
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