LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Ole Miss Athletics) – Ole Miss stormed back from an early deficit with five runs in the final two innings, but it wasn’t quite enough as the Rebels fell 10-8 on the road at No. 7 Louisville.
Cooper Johnson and Tim Elko hit back-to-back home runs with one out in the ninth to cut the deficit to two, but the Cardinals escaped with a 10-8 win and a sweep of the two-game midweek series.
Things started off well for Ole Miss after three consecutive walks in the first inning, with a couple of wild pitches mixed in, gave the Rebels an early 1-0 lead. Cole Zabowski made it 2-0 with an RBI single to right as part of a 2-for-3 day with one run scored and one RBI.
However, the Louisville offense didn’t allow the lead to last. Houston Roth gave up a one-out double before hitting a pair of batters to load the bases. Then three singles and an error brought in a quick five runs for the home team.
The Cardinals added one more on a single to right center field in the second, then another pair in the third on a two-run home run by Alex Binelas, making it an 8-2 game.
Ole Miss got one back in the fourth when Grae Kessinger singled to left to plate Chase Cockrell and cut the Cardinal lead to five, but Louisville got the run right back on an RBI single in the fifth.
The Rebels threatened in the sixth when they loaded the bases with one out. However, Kevin Graham hit a comebacker that ended in a one-two-three double play to halt the potential rally.
Louisville plated its 10th run in the sixth on an RBI double into the right field corner by Jake Snider before Tyler Myers struck out Tyler Fitzgerald to end the inning.
Ole Miss had another scoring chance in the seventh with two on and two out, but Cooper Johnson was robbed of a base hit up the middle by a terrific play by Louisville second baseman Justin Lavey.
Myers came back with a nine-pitch seventh inning to put up a zero, and the Rebels carried that momentum into the eighth. Louisville walked the bases loaded, bringing up Tyler Keenan, who ripped one through the right side to plate Jacob Adams and Kessinger and cut the Cardinal lead to five.
Ryan Olenek then came on to pitch for Ole Miss in the eighth and delivered once again in his third career outing a one-two-three inning with one strikeout. The Rebel Swiss Army knife was also 1-for-3 at the plate with a pair of walks.
Despite carrying a five-run deficit into the ninth, the Rebels never gave in. Cole Zabowski was hit by a pitch with one down and Johnson promptly deposited a pitch deep over the left center wall to cut the deficit to three. However, that’s as far as the Rebel comeback bid would go as Ole Miss fell two runs short of the ninth-inning rally.
Now, Ole Miss will turn its attention to Southeastern Conference play. The Rebels open up their league slate Friday against Alabama at 6:30 p.m. CT.
– Ole Miss fell to 12-5 on the season. Its all-time series with Louisville is now even at 8-8.
– Ole Miss hit back-to-back home runs for the second time this season. The first was when Dillard and Keenan went back-to-back on February 23 against Tulane.
– Cooper Johnson hit his second home run of the season as part of a 2-for-5 day. He upped his batting average to .302.
– Tim Elko hit his second home run of the season and the first pinch-hit home run by a Rebel since Michael Fitzsimmons launched a pinch-hit grand slam last season at Texas A&M.
– Ryan Olenek and Tyler Keenan both extended impressive reached-base streaks. They have now reached base in 17 and 15 games straight, respectively.
– Ryan Olenek had another strong outing on the mound, making his second appearance of the season and the third of his career, going 1.0 innings of flawless work, striking out one and retiring all three batters he faced.