Baseball’s Ninth-Inning Rally Falls Short
April 1, 2017

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OXFORD, Miss.
– No. 19 Ole Miss loaded the bases in the ninth inning, but a potential game-winning hit down the right field line was robbed by first baseman Brent Rooker to help Mississippi State hang on for a 2-1 win Saturday afternoon at Swayze Field.

Runs were at a premium in the series finale. The Rebels (16-12, 3-6 SEC) scored in the first before the Bulldogs (19-10, 6-3 SEC) plated a pair in the third and fourth for the only runs of the contest. In his first career SEC start, freshman Ryan Rolison (3-1) turned in a quality outing but had to take the loss. The Jackson, Tennessee, native allowed only two runs through 6.0 innings. For the second straight game, the Ole Miss bullpen held MSU scoreless as Will Ethridge pitched two scoreless frames, and Dallas Woolfolk retired three straight hitters in the ninth.

Colby Bortles went 2-for-4 with an RBI as the team’s cleanup hitter. Fellow team captain Tate Blackman kept his reached base streak alive and increase it to 21 games with a single in the ninth. Ole Miss recorded four hits in the game, two in the first and two in the final inning.

For the Bulldogs, Jake Mangum (2-2) recorded one single as the leadoff hitter and pitched 5.0 innings to collect the win. Along with making the game-winning play, Rooker added a pair of doubles and one RBI. Second baseman Cody Brown tallied a game-high three hits, and Spencer Price (9) recorded his third save of the series.

With their first opportunity, the Rebels jumped on the Bulldogs in the opening frame. Ryan Olenek singled up the middle and advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch. A deep fly to center field moved Olenek to third with two outs, and Bortles knocked him in on a base hit to left. The RBI single put Ole Miss on the board first, but MSU responded with runs in consecutive innings to take a 2-1 lead.

Rolison bounced back to throw up zeroes in his final two innings, turning the game over to Ethridge. In the seventh, the freshman right-hander struck out the side before working a scoreless eighth inning as well.

As was the theme of the series, Ole Miss did not go down without a fight. The Rebels put the tying run on base for the third straight game. Blackman and Bortles singled to start the inning before Nick Fortes moved both runners up 90 feet with a sacrifice bunt. With two runners in scoring position and an open base at first, MSU elected to walk freshman slugger Thomas Dillard. The decision loaded the bases with one out. Following a pop out in foul territory, Tim Rowe ripped a 1-2 pitch down the first base line. Diving to his left, Rooker snagged the grounder and quickly jumped up to step on the bag to end the game. The web gem eliminated a would-be game-winning hit for Ole Miss and allowed the Bulldogs to survive.

Up next, the Rebels will travel to Pearl, Mississippi for a neutral-site matchup against Southern Miss (April 4). First pitch from Trustmark Park, home of the Mississippi Braves, is slated for 6:30 p.m. Following the midweek contest, Ole Miss will host Alabama at Swayze Field for another three-game set (April 7-9). Saturday afternoon (April 8) will feature the football team’s spring game, the Grove Bowl, at 11 a.m. followed by game two of the baseball weekend series at 3 p.m.

Quick Hits

  • In all three games of the series, the Rebels had the tying run on base in the bottom of the ninth; Ole Miss lost the three games by a combined five runs.
  • First time MSU was able to sweep Ole Miss in a series since 2003; the Rebels swept the Bulldogs in 2015, the last time the two rivals met at Swayze Field, as well as 2010 and 2005.
  • Freshman lefty Ryan Rolison made his first career start in SEC play.
  • MSU’s run in the third was the first Rolison surrendered in a start, ending his scoreless streak in starts at 13.2 innings.
  • With a single in the bottom of the ninth, Tate Blackman kept his reached base streak alive and increased it to 21 games.
  • Today’s attendance was 11,204 – fourth largest in Swayze Field history.
  • Ole Miss and MSU saw 30,742 watch the three-game set, the second-most for any series at Swayze Field.

 

 

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