It’s going to get better for the Rhode Island Rams, but right now it’s tough to be a fan of Rhody baseball. URI dropped to 0-6 on the season following another three-game weekend sweep by another nationally ranked team. This time it came at the hands of the Ole Miss Rebels, who currently sit as the number 18 team in the country according to the NCBWA. Rhody is still a very good baseball team, but they have to feel discouraged with this rough start to the season.
The three-game set began on Friday when Mike Bradstreet took the mound for the Rams, opposed by Ole Miss ace Bobby Wahl. The Rebels got to Bradstreet right away in the bottom of the first, touching him up for five runs on five hits, including a pair of doubles. Rhody got one of those runs back in the top of the second when Tim Caputo worked a two-out, bases-loaded walk. But Ole Miss continued to pile it on against Bradstreet, adding two runs in the bottom of the second and another in the third as they coasted to an 8-1 victory. Wahl struggled with his control a bit, but was able to limit the Rams to just two hits in his five innings of work.
Saturday’s affair saw a great pitcher’s duel between URI’s Sean Furney and junior Mike Mayers for the Rebels. Furney went eight scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and a walk while striking out seven. Unfortunately the Rams had just three hits and no runs through the first eight innings themselves, despite having a few chances to put a run on the board. Rhody stranded runners in scoring position in the second and third innings and left the bases loaded in the sixth and eighth. Rhode Island’s final chance came in the ninth as they had runners on first and second with one out. But Jeff Roy flied to left and Joe Landi struck out to end the thread. Ty Sterner came on to pitch for the Rams in the bottom of the ninth and retired the first two Ole Miss hitters before disaster struck. A walk to Will Allen, a single by Andrew Mistone and a double-steal put runners at second and third for pinch-hitter Austin Knight. Knight was the hero for the Rebels, delivering a walk-off base hit to give his squad a 1-0 win in another heart-breaker for Rhody.
The series finale saw another URI starter struggle in the early innings. This time it was Liam O’Sullivan who allowed five runs in the first three innings, and the Rams were never able to recover against Sam Smith and the Ole Miss bullpen. Rhody had the tying runs at the plate in the seventh and eighth innings, but were not able to rally as they fell 5-3 in their sixth game of the season.
Rhode Island’s tough schedule continues this week as they head to Mississippi State for a mini two-game set beginning tomorrow afternoon. The Bulldogs are currently the 13th ranked team in the country, so the Rams once again have their work cut out for them. Rhody’s February slate is intimidating to say the least, but it will hopefully prepare them for the remainder of the season.