Recap: Louisville narrowly comes up short in opening series at Ole Miss

Louisville baseball started the season as the top-ranked team in three of the six college baseball polls, but dropped two-of-three on the road at Ole Miss this weekend. Here’s a recap of all three games from this weekend in Oxford.

Game 1: Louisville defeats Ole Miss 7-2

Louisville fell behind 1-0 after five innings, but a four-run sixth inning — as well as a three-run ninth — proved to be the difference as the Cardinals (1-0) took a 7-2 victory over the Ole Miss Rebels (0-1) in the season opener.

It looked like Ole Miss was going to start the 2020 season with a bang against the top-ranked Cardinals, as Anthony Servideo led off the first with a double. Servideo advanced to third after a failed pickoff attempt, and Ole Miss had runners on the corners with no outs against Reid Detmers.

Detmers would rebound to strike out seven straight batters, going the first four innings without any runs allowed. Ole Miss would eventually get a run on him in the fifth inning, coming on Servideo’s RBI single that scored a pinch-running John Rhys Plumlee.

But Louisville would answer back with four runs in the sixth inning, all coming on RBI doubles. Zach Britton brought two runs home on his RBI double to put the Cards ahead 2-1, with Henry Davis and Justin Lavey bringing in one run each to extend the lead to 4-1.

Ole Miss would cut into Louisville’s lead in the eighth inning with an RBI single from Justin Bench, but Louisville added three more runs in the ninth to put the game away. Jared Poland had an RBI single that extended Louisville’s lead to 5-2. Alex Binelas added an RBI single that brought both Luke Brown and Poland home, both runs coming unearned on an error from centerfield.

It was business as usual for Reid Detmers on the mound. The Louisville lefty pitched five innings with nine strikeouts and one run allowed, earning his first win of 2020. Justin Lavey went 2-of-4 at the plate with an RBI, both hits going for doubles. Jared Poland (2-of-4, RBI), Henry Davis (2-of-3, RBI), and Luke Brown (2-of-4) also had multi-hit games to join Lavey for the Cardinals.

Anthony Servideo (2-of-3) and Justin Bench (2-of-4) accounted for four of Ole Miss’s six hits in the game, with both bringing in the two runs scored by the Rebels.

Game 2: Ole Miss defeats Louisville 8-6

In game two of the series, Ole Miss (1-1) jumped to an early 3-0 lead in the first inning, and held off multiple rallies by Louisville (1-1) to take an 8-6 victory.

Unlike Friday’s game which saw their first inning quickly fizzle out, the Rebels were able to jump to an early 3-0 lead. Peyton Chatagnier and Tyler Keenan brought in runs on an RBI double and groundout, respectively. Cael Baker would book end the inning with a solo homer to left center.

Louisville would tie the game at 3-3 with runs coming in the second, fourth, and fifth innings. Henry Davis would supply the first two for the Cardinals on RBI doubles in the second and fourth innings, and Andrew Benefield tied it in the fifth with an RBI single.

From there, Louisville and Ole Miss would continue to trade runs until the seventh inning. Cael Baker’s RBI double in the fifth inning would put the Rebels back ahead 4-3 after five innings.

Louisville tied the game at 4-4 in the sixth with Justin Lavey’s RBI single, but Ole Miss got a solo home run from Tim Elko in the bottom half to put the Rebels back ahead 5-4.

Andrew Benefield’s sac fly in the top of the seventh tied it at 5-5, but three runs by Ole Miss in the bottom half of the inning would effectively put the game away. Cael Baker drilled his second home run of the game in the inning to put the Rebels ahead 7-5. A fielder’s choice on Tim Elko’s at-bat in the inning added another run to Ole Miss’s lead, putting them ahead 8-5.

Danny Oriente’s home run in the ninth cut the Ole Miss lead to 8-6. Despite having runners on second and third with one out, Louisville’s final two batters (Henry Davis and Ben Bianco) were retired back-to-back to close the game out.

Cael Baker led the charge for the Rebels, going a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate with two home runs, a double, and four RBIs. Both of Kevin Graham’s two hits went for doubles, as he went 2-for-4 on the day. Tim Elko also had a home run in his 1-for-4 showing on Saturday, driving in two RBIs.

Henry Davis followed up a stellar Friday with another solid outing on Saturday, going 2-for-4 with two doubles and RBIs each. Zach Britton went 2-for-3 at the plate with a double, and Andrew Benefield also went 2-for-2 in relief of Alex Binelas, whom exited with an injury.

Game 3: Ole Miss defeats Louisville 7-6

The rubber match of the series would see Ole Miss rally from a 4-1 deficit in the sixth inning, as the Rebels (2-1) used a four-run seventh inning to take the series with a 7-6 win over the top-ranked Cardinals (1-2).

Louisville jumped to a 3-0 lead after five innings, getting the first run on a very bizarre sac fly by Andrew Benefield. A gaffe in baserunning caused a jam at both third base and home, with Britton getting to third base safely. While Danny Oriente was running home, Ole Miss catcher Hayden Dunhurst dropped the ball, and the error allowed Oriente to slide home and give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead.

Back-to-back home runs by Levi Usher and Ben Bianco in the fifth inning pushed Louisville’s lead to 3-0. Anthony Servideo responded with a homer of his own to cut the lead to 3-2.

Levi Usher would once again provide a run in the sixth inning, driving an RBI single to push Louisville’s lead to 4-2.

After Usher’s RBI single, Ole Miss would go on a 5-0 run in the sixth and seventh innings to take the lead. In the sixth, Cael Baker struck out on a dropped third strike, but an error on the throw to first allowed a run to score and cut the lead to 4-3.

Four runs by Ole Miss in the following inning would put the Rebels ahead 7-4. Justin Bench was hit by a pitch from Ryan Hawks in a bases-loaded situation, then Tyler Keenan and Cael Baker both had RBI singles that drove in three runs combined (Keenan 2, Baker 1).

After hitting his home run in the fifth inning, Ben Bianco would add an RBI double in the ninth that cut the lead to 7-5. Bianco would score from second on the next at-bat, after an error on Servideo’s throw allowed him to slide home and cut it to 7-6. But the final at-bat of the game saw Henry Davis strike out, and Justin Lavey thrown out trying to reach second base.

The top of the batting order was the key for Ole Miss, as Anthony Servideo (2-for-3) and Tyler Keenan (2-for-4) had multi-hit games with two RBIs apiece. Servideo also hit his first home run of 2020 in the fifth inning. Hayden Leatherwood also went 2-for-2 in the game. Wes Burton had a tremendous outing in relief for the Rebels, going 2.1 innings without an earned run or hit.

Levi Usher and Ben Bianco both went 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs apiece. Zach Britton also went 2-for-4 at the plate with a double. Luke Smith had five innings pitched in his first start of 2020, allowing three earned runs on five hits, with eight strikeouts thrown.

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