The 13th-ranked Bulldogs fell in a pitcher’s duel and then dropped a slugfest.
Arch-rival and 20th-ranked Ole Miss had the better of it as the Rebels posted a 3-0 and 10-8 Southeastern Conference baseball sweep before a graduation weekend capacity crowd at Oxford-University Stadium.
MSU dropped its fifth conference series of the season, while bowing to Ole Miss in a series here for the first time since 2007. MSU is now 36-15 overall and 13-13 in league play, while Ole Miss is 35-16 and 14-12.
In the second contest, the Bulldogs pounded out 17 hits – the second most in a conference game this season. The Bulldogs scored twice in the first inning but could make the early lead hold up. A five-hit first inning proved quite a turn around after MSU was held to a season-low two hits in the opener.
“I was proud of our approach in the second game,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “They made some mistakes and got away with them, while we made some mistakes and didn’t get away with them. Things did not go our way and you have to make them go your way in this game.”
Ole Miss came right back with four runs off MSU starter Kendall Graveman (5-5) in the home half of the inning. A bases-clearing triple by Auston Bousfield was the big blow in the inning.
The Bulldogs closed within 4-3 on an RBI-single by Rea in the third inning. The momentum was short lived as Graveman was touched for two more scores in the fifth inning and the Bulldogs made two errors on one play leading to two runs in the sixth inning.
Still, the Bulldogs kept battling. RBI-singles by Hunter Renfroe Wea brought MSU within 8-5 in the seventh inning. Consecutive singles by Frazier, Detz and Renfroe made it 10-7 in the eighth inning.
An RBI-single by DeMarcus Henderson made it 10-8 in the ninth inning. A line drive catch in the outfield ended the contest with two runners on base for the Bulldogs.
“Kendall did not have great command,” Cohen said. “When his ball does not move, he is going to get hard. The four spot in the first inning really hurt us.”
Detz finished with four hits for the Bulldogs, while Renfroe and Rea each had three hits.
Ole Miss finished with 11 hits, including a three-hit, five-RBI night by Bousfield. Starting pitcher Sam Smith (3-0) worked six innings, scattered nine hits, allowed three runs and earned the win. Tanner Bailey finished the contest for his third save.
In the opener, Bobby Wahl, Mike Mayers and Brett Huber combined on a two-hitter as MSU was shut out for the first time this season. Wahl threw the first inning before rains forced the contest to be suspended Friday night. Mayers (4-4) took it from there and was dominant in seven innings of work. Huber finished the contest for his 11th save.
Ole Miss scored single runs in the fifth, sixth and eighth innings. Will Allen’s third home run of the year broke a scoreless tie in the fifth inning. A bases-loaded walk and sacrifice fly produced the other runs.
Luis Pollorena (6-3) was lifted with two outs in the sixth inning and took the loss.
MSU’s best scoring threat came in the third inning when Renfroe hit a double play ball with one out and the bases loaded.
“If Hunter hits a fly ball or hits a ground ball to the right side, it is a totally different game,” Cohen said. “It was his worst swing of the day. Our approach at the plate in the first game was not good. We let them have too many easy outs.”
The series finale is at 1 p.m. Sunday and will be televised by Comcast Sports Southeast.