Hoping to capture its first victory against a Southeastern Conference opponent since 1996, FIU instead failed to avoid the weekend series sweep in an 8-1 loss to Ole Miss on Sunday afternoon at FIU Baseball Stadium.
“Ole Miss is better than we are,” FIU coach Turtle Thomas said. “That’s the only place you need to go. They’re better than we are. Plain and simple.”
Scoreless through three innings, the Rebels (11-1) worked a two-out rally for a pair of runs in the fourth off right-hander Mike Franco (1-1), who had retired the first 11 batters on 39 pitches.
Sophomore center fielder Auston Bousfield walked and scored on junior catcher Stuart Turner’s triple. Senior third baseman Andrew Mistone jumped on the next pitch for an RBI double to left.
“Just working both sides of the plate,” said Franco, who allowed two runs on two hits and two walks in four innings. “I had everything going for me — my changeup was phenomenal. I could throw it for a strike out of the strike zone if I wanted to. That was a big deal coming in. We knew we had to locate all three pitches to be successful.”
The Rebels put together a three-run fifth off junior left-hander Ty Sullivan as the first four batters reached base to extend their lead to 5-0.
Sophomore right fielder Will Jamison walked to lead off the inning and junior second baseman Preston Overbey singled to put runners at the corners. Sullivan hit senior center fielder Tanner Mathis with a pitch before surrendering a bases-loaded walk. Following a double play, Turner drove in a run with his two-out double.
FIU (7-5) took advantage of a fielding error by the first baseman to trim the deficit to 5-1 in the fifth against sophomore right-hander Sam Smith (2-0), who pitched six innings, giving up six hits with five strikeouts.
With one out, Roche Woodard singled to left and moved to third on a hit-and-run by sophomore designated hitter Julius Gaines. After a strikeout, sophomore Sikes Orvis misplayed freshman shortstop Edwin Rios’ grounder, scoring the run from third.
Ole Miss tacked on a run in the sixth and two in the seventh. The Panthers stranded 10 runners.
“They have a great pitching staff that mixed up a lot of pitches and pounded the zone,” said Gaines, who went 6 for 13 with an RBI and a run scored in the three-game series. “It was a tough time at the plate, but I don’t think it’s anything we should get too alarmed about. We just need to execute a little bit better.”