It was a baffling step backwards after a weekend that seemingly offered promise for a team trying to find itself.
Ole Miss’ 10-6 loss to North Alabama on Tuesday was disastrous setback for the Rebels and marks a precarious low point in the season, considering Ole Miss is coming off a weekend in which it took two out of three on the road at No. 8 Arkansas, an occurrence that felt like a turning point for a team that had struggled to play consistently good baseball for the first six weeks of the season.
There are 299 division I baseball teams. The Lions entered the day ranked 285 in the RPI. It is their first season as a D-I program. Beyond the sheer fact this is a catastrophic RPI pitfall for the Rebels, the result in and of itself is alarming.
What is the message after a loss as head-scratching as the one that unfolded on Tuesday?
“There isn’t a message,” head coach Mike Bianco said. “We were really bad today. Credit North Alabama. They played really well. A team that’s struggling offensively and we give up 10 runs and 14 hits. Just a bad day. Offensively, we had opportunities early and didn’t push runs across.”
The 14 hits the Lions collected were a season high. North Alabama had a .215 batting average as a team and ranked in the bottom 12 in the country in most every major offensive statistical category.
Max Cioffi struggled in his first career start, allowing five runs, two earned on six hits with four strikeouts in 3.2 innings.The Rebels fell behind 5-2 after the Lions three-run fourth inning, trimmed the margin to 5-4 in the bottom half of the inning, but let things unravel late.
Houston Roth and Taylor Broadway each gave up a pair of runs in the sixth and eighth innings as North Alabama grabbed control of the game int the later innings. It plated two in the sixth and three more in the eighth to take a 10-4 lead. Ole Miss required seven pitchers in this game.
“Sometimes you can get the momentum in your dugout if you do one or the other,” Bianco said. “When you don’t do either, it’s tough. We let them hang around long enough to where, at the end, they got some hits and beat us.”
The Rebels were 4-of-14 with runners in scoring position. North Alabama was 6-of-16 and 9-of-22 with runners on base. Ole Miss stranded 11 runners. It all equated to a mystifying loss that seemingly thwarted any sort of momentum garnered from its best series win of the year in Fayetteville.
“It is certainly disappointing to play so well this weekend and to come out and play so poorly today,” Bianco said. “We’ll take tomorrow off and get back to practice on Thursday.”
Ole Miss hosts Florida this weekend. First pitch on Friday is slated for 6:30 P.M.