BATON ROUGE, La. – The Rebels took an early lead and fought back with a furious rally late, but couldn’t overcome a big sixth inning from the home team as Ole Miss (18-9, 3-4 SEC) fell at No. 17 LSU (19-7, 2-5 SEC) by a score of 7-6 on Friday night at Alex Box Stadium.
Matt Snyder paced the Rebel offense with a 2-for-3 performance and a home run in a back and forth battle, but Ole Miss couldn’t complete a late rally in the team’s first Friday night loss of the season.
Matt Crouse (6-1) suffered his first setback of the year as he allowed seven runs – six of them earned – on 10 hits with a walk and four strikeouts. Crouse had won nine consecutive decisions dating back to April 13, 2010 when he fell at Memphis in his only other loss in his career. He had also allowed only two runs in his previous four starts.
Kurt McCune (5-0) picked up the win for the Tigers as he allowed three runs on six hits with four walks and six strikeouts. Kevin Berry picked up his second save as he worked the final 2.0 innings and held the Rebels to one hit.
“We hit the ball really hard tonight,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “Offensively, we did a pretty good job against a guy who has been tough on everybody. Matt Crouse really battled out there, but we didn’t help him enough early.”
Ole Miss loaded the bases with one out in the first, threatening LSU early, but couldn’t get a run home as LSU got out of the inning without any damage.
LSU answered in the bottom of the inning, scoring first on a solo home run from Mikie Mahtook to open the second inning and put the Tigers on the board.
Ole Miss tied things up in the third, however, when Alex Yarbrough came up with an RBI double to the wall in left center that scored Blake Newalu from first. Yarbrough moved to third on a groundout to short from Matt Smith and then gave the Rebels the lead when he scored on a single through the right side from Matt Tracy to put Ole Miss up 2-1.
Matt Snyder extended the lead to 3-1 in the fourth inning with a solo shot to right field.
LSU evened things up again in the bottom of the frame, using a second home run from Mahtook to cut the lead to one. The Tigers then got back-to-back singles to put men at the corners with no outs before Alex Edward reached on a fielder’s choice to short that scored Austin Nola from third.
The Tigers moved back into the lead in the sixth inning when Edward scored from third on a groundout to short from Raph Rymes. LSU then went back up by two on a single up the middle from Hanover that gave the Tigers the 5-3 lead.
The Tigers continued to build on the lead when Mahtook came up with a two-out RBI single to right with men at first and second. The single drove in the first run, but a throwing error from home to second in an attempt to get Mahtook out allowed a second run to score as Mahtook advanced to third on the play. Reliever Mike Mayers then got a strikeout of Nola to end the inning as the Rebels trailed 7-3.
Ole Miss mounted a furious rally in the eighth, getting a single and a double to open the inning before a triple from Miles Hamblin scored two runs. Taylor Hightower then notched an infield single to score Hamblin from third and pull the Rebels within one at 7-6.
The Rebels couldn’t complete the rally in the ninth, however, as LSU held on to claim the win by one run.
Ole Miss and LSU will take the field for game two of the series at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday at Alex Box Stadium.
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