By Adam Brown
Ole Miss falls to Arizona 9-3 in the opening game of the Tucson Super Regional on Friday.
Arizona scored all of their runs on seven extra-base hits in the game with four home runs, a triple and two doubles. The Wildcats had home runs by Donta Williams, Tony Bullard (2) a triple by Bullard and doubles by Ryan Holigate and Williams.
Ole Miss (44-21) jumped out to a three-run lead in the first as Jacob Gonzalez smashed a double off of the Wildcats starter Chase Silseth. Two batters later, Tim Elko was intentionally walked. Justin Bench followed with an RBI double that brought home Gonzalez. TJ McCants drove in Bench and Elko with a base knock to center.
“We didn’t have a good day (offensively),” head coach Mike Bianco said. “Credit them and their starter. We were able to put some bats together in the first inning, and after that it seemed like he settled in.”
Sophomore Derek Diamond worked around three solo home runs through the first four innings that tied the game up at 3-3.
In the bottom of the first, Williams had a leadoff with a home run. Diamond then worked around a base hit and a walk to induce a ground ball.
Bullard hit solo home runs in the second and in the fourth. His triple came in the sixth. Bullard finished the night going 3-for-4 at the plate with three runs scored and two RBI.
Silseth settled in after the first inning and kept Ole Miss off the board in three innings.
“(Silseth) pitched well,” Bianco said. “We were able to get some swings off (early). After that, he mixed well.”
In the fourth inning, McCants delivered his second hit of the game. He finished the game going 2-for-4 with two RBI and was the only player with a multi-hit game.
Silseth worked 4.2 innings and surrendered three runs on six hits with six strikeouts and four walks.
The Ole Miss offense could not get a hit past the fifth inning though they had two runners on base.
“We had a couple of runners on first and second, no outs, and we had three bad at-bats in a row,” Bianco said. “Not a good day for us offensively. “
The Wildcats reliever Riley Cooper entered in the fifth and was dominant on the bump — not allowing anything in 2.1 innings of work except a walk.
Diamond (3-5) worked into the fifth and logged 4.0 innings and surrendered four runs on eight hits. He retired one batter by strikeout and allowed a walk.
Bianco brought the senior Tyler Myers out of the pen in the relief for Diamond in a tied game. Myers tossed 3.2 innings, allowed five runs on five hits and struck out three Wildcat sluggers.
“Myers competed. He threw a ton of breaking balls — tried to keep them off-balance,” Bianco said. “(Arizona) made an adjustment there at the end. Good swing by Williams behind in the count. He competed.”
Arizona scored their final three runs in the eighth as Williams delivered a bases-clearing double to left.
On Saturday, Ole Miss will play to force a Game 3-winner to take all on Sunday. The Rebels will have Doug Nikhazy on the mound. The first pitch of the game is at 9 p.m. CT on ESPN2.