Monday, June 2, 2008

Number One Miami Upends Ole Miss

It began with the first pitch of the game, when speedy Miami leadoff hitter Blake Tekotte laid down a perfect bunt and outran the Ole Miss defense for an infield single.

Then it was Jemile Weeks - who ripped a double into an outfield gap, knocking in Tekotte. A few batters later, Ryan Jackson homered. Before the Rebels could regain their footing, they were mired in a three-run hole.
And really, it never got much better the rest of night as No. 1-ranked Miami blew past Ole Miss 11-2 to win the NCAA Coral Gables Regional championship on Sunday night at Mark Light Field.
"Their offense was unbelievable," said Ole Miss outfielder Logan Power. "We just didn't have an answer."
The loss ends the Rebels' season. It's the first time Ole Miss (39-26) hasn't advanced to the Super Regionals since 2004.
The loss to Miami was the second game of the day for Ole Miss, which beat Missouri 9-6 in an elimination game earlier in the afternoon. But after expending the energy to dispatch the Tigers in the hot south Florida sun, the Rebels were outclassed by a Miami (50-8) team that won its 24th regional tournament.
"I'm sure our guys were tired, but that wasn't the problem," said Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco. "It wasn't 11-2 today because of fatigue. It was 11-2 because they're very good."
Even after Ole Miss fell into the early three-run hole, the team showed some fight when Cody Overbeck hit a two-run homer to cut the Miami lead to 3-2.
But the Hurricanes' offense wasn't going to be denied. Miami scored once more in the second inning and three more times in the third, taking a 7-2 lead that proved to be more than enough to get past the Rebels.
Ole Miss starter Nathan Baker (3-6) gave up six runs in 2 1/3 innings. Five Miami players had two hits.
"One of things I was doing was leaving my pitches up," Baker said, "and they were hitting it everywhere."
Ole Miss reliever Justin Cryer settled things down after the third, giving up just two runs in 5 2/3 innings. But the Rebels' offense could never get going against Miami's Eric Erickson (8-1), who didn't allow a run after Overbeck's first-inning homer.
The left-hander kept Ole Miss off balance, throwing seven innings and allowing just six hits and a walk. Power said Erickson - with his wide array of off-speed pitches, was the type of pitcher the team had struggled against all season.
"We needed a pitching performance," said Miami coach Jim Morris, who won his seventh regional in 15 years at Miami. "(Erickson) is a guy we needed to win this tournament, win the next one and the next one."
The next two tournaments Morris is referring to are the Super Regionals and then the College World Series. The Hurricanes have been one of the favorites to make it to Omaha, Neb., all season.
Ole Miss designated hitter Fuller Smith said it was easy to understand why after playing them.
"We wanted a shot at Miami," Smith said. "But they were just too good today."
Coming into this season, the Rebels were also considered one of the nation's elite teams. But they never lived up to the expectations, finishing eighth in the SEC and coming into the NCAA Tournament as a No. 3 seed in the four-team regional.
But Bianco said the team's late surge was something that made him proud. The Rebels won six of their last 10 games.
"It's been a crazy year for us," said Bianco, who cited an inability to handle expectations, injuries and a few individual poor seasons as reasons for the breakdown.
"But the reason I'm so proud is because three weeks ago, not too many people would think we'd be in a regional final playing the No. 1 team in the country," Bianco said. "Our guys continued to compete down the line and you just get to the point where you've got to beat (a good team) and we just didn't have an answer."

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