LAFAYETTE, La. (Ole Miss Athletics) – The Rebels jumped out to an early lead on the Ragin’ Cajuns, but big innings in the third and fifth proved to be too much to overcome as No. 6 Ole Miss (44-19) fell to No. 1 Louisiana-Lafayette (58-8) by a score of 9-5 on Saturday in the opening game of an NCAA Super Regional.
The two teams will play again at 8 p.m. CT on Sunday with the Rebels looking to stay alive and even the series with a win, while ULL is looking to punch a ticket to the College World Series. The game will be broadcast by ESPN2.
Chris Ellis (10-2) suffered only his second loss of the season as he allowed five runs – four earned – on one hit with three walks and two strikeouts through 2.1 innings of work.
Austin Robichaux (8-3) picked up the win, allowing five runs on seven hits with three walks and four strikeouts through 7.0 innings of work.
“They (ULL) played very well tonight,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “(Austin) Robichaux really found himself after the first couple of innings and then went deep into the game. That’s what you want for the starter. I’m disappointed we didn’t play better. We gave them too many opportunities and they are too good of a team to do that.”
Ole Miss got on the board in the second inning with an RBI single through the left side from Preston Overbey that scored Sikes Orvis from third. Orvis reached with a leadoff double and took third on a fly ball to center from J.B. Woodman. Colby Bortles then drew a walk before the Overbey single that got the Rebels on the board.
The lead grew to 2-0 when Errol Robinson drove an RBI single to right field, allowing Bortles to score from second and keeping two men on for the Rebels. A walk of Braxton Lee then loaded the bases before a sac fly to center from Auston Bousfield drove in Overbey with a sac fly to center that put Ole Miss up 3-0 in the second.
The Ragin Cajuns got on the board in the home half of the second, capitalizing on a fielding error on a fly ball in center field with two outs to get a run across the plate. Tyler Giroaurd walked to open the inning and took second on a sac bunt before back-to-back fly balls looked to end the inning.
The second fly ball to center was dropped on a fly ball from Seth Harrison as Giroaurd scampered home from second on the play. Ellis struck out the next batter to end the inning and kept the Rebels on top 3-1 after the second inning of play
Louisiana-Lafayette continued to chip away at the lead in the third with the first three men reaching on a walk, a hit batter and a walk. Blake Trahan then groundout to first to bring a run home and leave two men in scoring position as the Ragin’ Cajuns cut the lead to one at 3-2. Giroaurd then got the first hit of the night for the home team with a three-run shot to right field to put ULL on top 5-3
Jeremy Massie then took the mound for the Rebels in relief of Ellis. The left-hander got a strikeout of the first batter faced before a single to right and a single to left center put men at the corners with two away in the inning. A balk was called to bring a fifth run home before Massie would get a strikeout to end the inning with the Rebels down 6-3.
Ole Miss cut the lead to two runs in the fourth with a two-out triple to left center from Lee that scored Robinson from first. Robinson reached on a walk in the previous at bat before Lee drove a 2-2 pitch to the wall in left center to bring him home and put the score at 6-4.
ULL got the run back and then some in the fifth inning, bringing three runs home in the frame. After the first two batters reached on a walk and a bunt single, a sac bunt moved them into scoring position. A wild pitch brought the first run home and moved the trail runner to third. A groundout to short brought the second run home and cleared the bases with two outs. Dylan Butler then hit a solo shot to left to cap the inning and put the Ragin’ Cajuns up 9-4.
Ole Miss cut the lead to 9-5 in the seventh with an RBI single to left from Will Allen that brought Bousfield home from second. Bousfield reached on a single up the middle two batters earlier to put it him on for the Allen hit that trimmed the lead to four runs at the stretch.
Massie and reliever Wyatt Short kept the Cajuns off the board in the seventh and the eighth, but the Rebels couldn’t put together a rally down the stretch as the Ragin’ Cajuns picked up the win in game one of the series.