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Ole Miss bats go cold, Rebels drop game two in extra innings to UCF, 1-0

Ole Miss bats go cold, Rebels drop game two in extra innings to UCF, 1-0

ORLANDO — No. 2 Ole Miss suffered a 1-0 loss in a 12-inning pitchers’ duel in game two of the series against UCF Saturday. The loss, which evens the series at 1-1, marks the Rebels’ first of the season. They now sit at 9-1 with game three vs. the Knights set for Sunday. 

In the top of the first, UCF pitcher Connor Staine retired Ole Miss batters in order, striking out two of the three.

The Knights started the bottom of the inning with a lead-off double on a deep drive from Gephry Pena to right center field. Rebel pitcher John Gaddis stranded Pena on third base after retiring the next three UCF batters in a row.

The top of the second would see much of the same from Connor Staine who struck out the side, sitting down all three Rebels swinging.

Much of the same would come from Gaddis. After allowing the first batter to reach on a bunt single, the next batter would reach on a fielder’s choice. But Gaddis then notched a strike out and induced a fly out to end the inning.

The Rebels got their first base runner in the top of the third thanks to a four-pitch walk of Hayden Dunhurst. The next batter, Calvin Harris, grounded into a fielder’s choice and advanced to second on an errant throw. The Rebels could get nothing else going, stranding Harris at second.

In the bottom of the third, Gaddis allowed the leadoff batter to reach again on a bunt single, but he retired the next three UCF batters on a ground out and two strikeouts.

Into the top of the fourth inning the game continued to be a pitching duel. Staine sat down the heart of the Ole Miss lineup one, two, three on two strikeouts.

Gaddis made quick work of UCF in the bottom of the fourth by getting the leadoff batter to ground out and striking out the second and the third batters on just nine pitches.

TJ McCants would get the Rebels’ first hit of the game in the top of the fifth with a two-strike single into shallow right field. The next batter, Hayden Leatherwood, ground into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.

Gaddis would continue his dominance in the bottom of the fifth, sitting down the Knights in order.

Connor Staine countered by doing the same in top of the sixth, putting away Rebel hitters in order.

Gaddis allowed the first batter in the bottom of the sixth to reach on a single, but he got the next to ground into a 6-4-3 double play. He then followed that with strikeout to end the sixth inning.

In the top of the seventh, Kevin Graham smacked a two-out single into center field; however, that would be all for the Rebels in the half inning.

Gaddis returned for the bottom half of the inning. He got the lead off batter to go down on strikes, but put the next batter on with a hit-by-pitch. But Gaddis hung tough and would not allow the Knights to take advantage of the free baserunner, getting the next Knight to ground into an inning-ending double play.

Heading into the top of the eighth, UCF pitcher Conor Staine’s day would come to end. Staine’s reliever would pick up right where he left off, striking out the side.

Gaddis’ day would also come to end as Mason Nichols came on in relief. He answered with a three-up, three-down inning of his own. The game would head to the ninth inning tied at 0-0.

“I was able to get ahead in the count for the most part which allowed me to throw all three of my pitches whenever I wanted, versus falling behind and having to throw fastball that they were just sitting on,” Gaddis said. “I think that is what made the difference.”

In the top of the ninth, the Rebels were held at bay and sat down in order.

UCF’s Gephry Pena led off the bottom of the ninth with a single through the left side of the infield, but he would eventually be caught stealing second by Rebels’ catcher Hayden Dunhurst. Nichols then struck out Nick Romano who hit a home run the day before. Nichols then got induced the Knight’s three-hole hitter to pop up into foul territory and send the game into extra innings.

Extra baseball

The Rebels would get a base runner in the top of the tenth off Justin Bench’s two-out single over the UCF third baseman’s head. Bench would then advance to second on a steal. The next Rebel batter, TJ McCants, would be intentionally walked. With two outs and runners on first and second, Leatherwood grounded out to first base to end the inning.

In the bottom of the tenth, Nichols would trot back out to continue his relief outing. He struck out the first batter he faced. That would mark the end of his time on the mound, bringing in Hunter Elliot. The first batter Elliott faced gave a deep drive to the warning track in center field, but TJ McCants was there to haul it in. Elliot sent the game to the eleventh, ending the tenth with a big-time strike out.

Hayden Dunhurst started the top of the eleventh with his second walk of the game. Ben Van Cleve came in to pinch hit for Calvin Harris and was doubled up on an attempt at a sacrifice bunt. Peyton Chatgnier ended the inning with a ground out the third base.

Hunter Elliott would allow a lead-off single to start the bottom of the eleventh, and the next batter would advance the runner to second on a sacrifice bunt. With a runner on second and one out, Leatherwood made a spectacular play in right field, secured the out, and gunned down the runner at second for an inning-ending double play.

Twelfth inning

With the game still tied in the top of the twelfth, Jacob Gonzalez led off with a well-hit ball to center field, but it found the glove of the UCF center fielder. Tim Elko followed with a walk and was substituted for a pinch-runner, Banks Tolley. Tolley would advance on a stolen base on a called third strike to Kevin Graham. Justin Bench followed with a strike out to end the Rebel threat.

In the bottom of the twelfth, Hunter Elliot walked the first two batters and Mitch Murrell came in to relieve him. With no outs and runners on first and second, a sacrifice bunt was laid down that advanced UCF runners to second and third. Riley Wash then singled up the middle to bring in the run, giving the Knights the 1-0 walk-off win in the bottom of the twelfth.

By the numbers

The Rebels were held to just three hits by the UCF pitching staff. John Gaddis pitched seven innings, giving up no runs on four hits, no walks and eight strikeouts. Hunter Elliot was given the loss.

“We are still the best lineup in the country, and I will live and die by that,” Gaddis said.

Coach Bianco weighed in on his team’s offensive woes after the game.

“It wasn’t just a little struggle,” Bianco said.

It was a tough day for us offensively. It was more about what they did, I thought Staine was tremendous. We chased some of the elevated fastballs out of the zone. Part of that was because he was able to throw his breaking ball in the strike zone.

Mike Bianco on the Rebels’ day offensively

Rubber game

Ole Miss and UCF will play the rubber game of the series Sunday. First pitch is set for 11:00 a.m.

Nick Filipich
Nick Filipich

Nick Filipich was born and raised in Biloxi, MS. He is an Ole Miss senior majoring in Sports and Recreation Administration. A sports junkie with a great passion for all things Ole Miss, Nick played baseball and football in high school — which is where he discovered his love for sports. He is an avid Braves and Saints fan, and in his free time enjoys spending time with family, friends and his black lab, Dixie.

About The Author

Nick Filipich

Nick Filipich was born and raised in Biloxi, MS. He is an Ole Miss senior majoring in Sports and Recreation Administration. A sports junkie with a great passion for all things Ole Miss, Nick played baseball and football in high school — which is where he discovered his love for sports. He is an avid Braves and Saints fan, and in his free time enjoys spending time with family, friends and his black lab, Dixie.

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