March 25, 2011
By Cameron Harris, Assistant Media Relations Director
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Ole Miss starting pitcher Matt Crouse fired a complete-game five-hitter as the Tennessee baseball team fell, 6-1, to the Rebels on Friday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. Three of UT's hits came from senior Matt Duffy, who had two doubles and launched his team-leading fifth home run of the season.
"Matt Crouse did a good job," UT Head Coach Todd Raleigh said. "He was the best pitcher we've seen this year far and away. He was able to throw anything he wanted to at any time. I guess that's why he's 6-0. He was better than us tonight and that's all there is to it. It was probably one of the best performances that I've seen since I've been in the league.
"I thought we were ready to play but (Crouse) just beat us. It could've been a little closer. There were two outs and nobody on (in the top of the sixth inning). Next thing you know, they get a cheap single and a home run. We hit a ball hard in the ninth with no outs and Duffy coming up but they made a great play."
Juniors Matt Ramsey and Zach Osborne each had a hit for the Big Orange as well, but the 12-game hitting streaks for seniors Khayyan Norfork and Josh Liles both came to a close. Junior southpaw Steven Gruver suffered his second loss of the season for UT after allowing five runs on eight hits in 7.1 innings. The Canfield, Ohio, native did strikeout eight hitters without a walk though.
After three quick and scoreless frames by both pitchers to open the contest, Ole Miss struck the first blow when Matt Smith launched the first pitch of the fourth inning deep to left for his fourth home run of the season.
The Rebels tacked on three more in the sixth despite the fact that Gruver got the first two batters to ground out. With two outs on the board, Smith was hit by a pitch and promptly stole second before coming home to score on a single by Matt Tracy. Alex Yarbrough then deposited an 0-1 pitch on to "The Porch" in left to put Ole Miss up 4-0.
Tennessee finally broke through in the bottom of the seventh when Duffy picked up his second hit of the day with a solo shot on to "The Porch" in left-center field. It was his team-leading fifth of the season, breaking a tie with freshman Ethan Bennett.
Ole Miss, however, responded with runs in both the eighth and ninth to increase its lead to five. The first came on a wild pitch by UT reliever Zack Godley, after a runner reached third on a leadoff double and a sac bunt. In the ninth, the Rebels used a one-out walk, a single and an RBI groundout.
The Vols tried to stake a rally in the final frame of the evening, but a tremendous play by Ole Miss left fielder Tanner Mathis thwarted that attempt. Osborne started the inning off with an infield single and Norfork followed with a long drive to left-center. Mathis, however, made a leaping grab high up against the wall and made a strong throw back into the infield to double up Osborne who was off-and-running on the play.
Again, UT would try to piece together a late comeback attempt with Chris Pierce drawing a two-out walk and Duffy ripping his second double of the day down the left-field line, but Crouse got Liles to lift a fly ball to right that fell shy of the warning track to end the game.
Tennessee and Ole Miss will return to the diamond for game two of the three-game set at 3 p.m. The contest will be televised on SportSouth with UT's own Bob Kesling and Rusty Ensor on the call. Senior lefty Rob Catapano (2-0, 3.27) will look to get the Vols back in the win column, while right-hander David Goforth (0-3, 2.87) will toe the rubber for the Rebels.