Let’s preface this by stating that Louisiana-Monroe is a bad, bad baseball team. They came into Tuesday night’s game against Ole Miss with a 12-32 record and an RPI rank in the 230s. Still, the ungodly beatdown the Rebs delivered at Swayze Field was a surprise, especially considering ULM actually led 7-3 midway through the fourth inning.
What followed was 18 unanswered runs over the course of three frames. The Rebs put up five runs before ULM could record an out in the bottom of the fourth. They added four more in the fifth, then popped off for nine in the sixth, when Rebel first baseman Nick Fortes hit two homers in the same damn inning. Ole Miss racked up 17 hits while a helpless Monroe committed three errors, four wild pitches and a passed ball.
With Ole Miss up 21-7 heading into the bottom of the seventh, everyone had seen enough. Over three hours into the game and with 2.5 more innings to play, the two coaches met at midfield and decided to put an end to the misery.
There is technically a run rule in college baseball that can end a game if one team is up by 10 or more runs after seven innings, but it’s enforced selectively (for instance, some conferences only put it into effect for the third game of a weekend series because of travel restrictions). What happened on Tuesday night was a ULM coach on his sixth pitcher crying uncle. Mike Bianco, himself trying to conserve pitching heading into a critical weekend trip to No. 7 Florida, was happy to oblige.
If nothing else, the beatdown was cathartic for a Rebel team that ranks dead last among SEC clubs in batting average. Every starter save DH Michael Fitzsimmons (who was pulled for a pinch hitter after just one at-bat) recorded a hit, and six Rebels tallied multiple hits. Ole Miss will hope that offensive momentum carries over to its series in Gainesville, which will go a long way in determining the Rebels’ NCAA Tournament fate. Nothing like a team with a staff ERA over 6.00 to get the bats back in a rhythm!
And oh yea: this is a two-game midweek series, so ULM has to head back onto Swayze Field again on Wednesday at 3 p.m. CT. It could be a looooong afternoon.