Monday, June 11, 2007

Baseball Season Ends in Tempe for Rebels

TEMPE, Az. - Ole Miss seemed as if it just never had a chance Sunday in the second game of a Super Regional against Arizona State.

The Rebels meekly bowed out of the NCAA tournament with a 7-1 loss to the Sun Devils a day after a heartbreaking loss in the first game of the best-of-three series.

Ole Miss blew a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the ninth inning Saturday, and appeared to still be feeling the lingering effects of the collapse when Sunday's game began.

"Today was probably a little more than I thought coming back after last night's game and one of so many games like that this year," Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said.

Arizona State started the scoring early with two runs in the third inning against a moribund group of Rebel players.

CJ Retherford, the nine-hole hitter for the Sun Devils, blasted a homerun off Rebel starter Lance Lynn that traveled well over the leftfield wall to give Arizona State a 1-0 lead.

Leadoff hitter Andrew Romine then doubled and advanced to third on a wild pitch as Lynn ran into myriad trouble early.

Romine scored one batter later on Brett Wallace's double and the Sun Devils led 2-0 after the inning.

Ole Miss displayed a shred of life in the bottom half of the third inning when the first two batters drew walks from Sun Devil pitcher Josh Satow.

However, an Alex Kliman strike out and a doubleplay ball off the bat of Jordan Henry in succession ended the threat without any damage done.

Ole Miss hit into two doubleplays Saturday, and hit into five for the series.

"It wasn't just the double plays; it was the plays in the outfield, and Romine made some sensational plays at shortstop," Bianco said of Arizona State's defense.

Arizona State added to its lead in the fourth inning with the help of an Ole Miss error.

Matt Spencer drew a leadoff walk in the inning and then stole second. Kliman's throw to Zack Cozart was offline and sailed into centerfield, which allowed Spencer to advance to third.

A questionable call by the first base umpire then followed on Tim Smith's single to rightfield that scored Spencer.

Rebel outfielder Jordan Henry appeared to catch a fly ball off the bat of Smith, but the umpire ruled that Henry trapped the ball and Smith advanced to second on the throw.

Spencer likely would have scored from third base even if Jordan Henry had caught the ball, but there would have been one out with no runners on-base, instead of zero outs with a man on second.
Arizona State took advantage of its good fortune as Romine then doubled to score Smith and make it 4-0.

The straw that broke the camel's back followed one batter later.

Wallace hit a monster homerun over the rightfield wall and gave Arizona State a 6-0 lead and all the momentum.

"After they put that four-run inning together, there just wasn't much left in our tank," Bianco said.

Wallace was a thorn in Lynn's side all afternoon and seemed to have the pitcher's number. The sophomore was 4-5 on the day with two runs scored and three RBI.

Arizona State had three players with multi-hit games and Ole Miss did not have a single player with more than one hit.

Lynn pitched seven innings and allowed six runs on six hits, but didn't appear to have his best stuff against the No. 1 hitting team in the nation.

"I felt good the whole day," Lynn said. "The (fourth) inning they just put the hits together when they needed to and I couldn't get anybody out. It's just one of those things that happens in baseball."

Craig Rodriguez and Cody Satterwhite combined to finish the game for the Rebels. Rodriguez didn't allow a hit in one inning of work and Satterwhite surrendered one run on two hits.

Arizona State's Satow turned in a dominant performance through his 7.2 innings pitched. Satow did not allow a run on five hits and left he game in the eighth inning to a hug from his closer Jason Jarvis, and a standing ovation from the 4,037 in attendance.

Ole Miss tried to piece together a rally in the fifth inning off Satow, but not until there were two outs in the frame.

CJ Ketchum and Evan Button had back-to-back singles, followed by a walk to Kliman to load the bases. But Jordan Henry grounded weakly up the middle to the shortstop Romine, who flipped to second base for the easy out to end the inning.

The Rebels did not mount another serious threat after the fifth inning until the ninth inning. Ole Miss scored its only run of the contest when Cozart scored on a sacrifice fly from pinch-hitter Fuller Smith.

Ole Miss finished its season 40-25 while Arizona State advanced to the College World Series in Omaha.