OXFORD, Miss – Freshman Jordan Poole hit his first home run of the season, a two-run shot in the ninth inning to cut the lead to one run, but the Rebels couldn’t complete the rally as Ole Miss (19-12, 4-6 SEC) fell to Georgia (17-14, 7-3 SEC) by a score of 9-8 on Friday night.
Ole Miss jumped out to a 3-0 lead on the Bulldogs, but early errors erased the advantage as Georgia moved out in front by the fourth inning. The Rebels fought back the rest of the night, cutting the lead to one run twice, but couldn’t overtake Georgia before the final out was recorded.
Matt Crouse (6-2) suffered the loss as he allowed eight runs – six earned – on 10 hits with two walks and two strikeouts in 7.0 innings of work.
Alex Wood (4-3) picked up the win for the Bulldogs as he allowed six runs – four earned – on six hits with one walk and two strikeouts in 7.0 innings of work. Tyler Maloof picked up his 12th save of the season as he gave up two runs on the Poole homer, but held on to give Georgia the win in the ninth.
“Tonight was a tough night,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “The game was hard-fought all the way through, we just didn’t have the complete performance we needed to win. Georgia was able to get to Crouse and hit some of his off-speed stuff which are usually his most effective pitches. Offensively, we scored eight runs. When you score eight on Friday nights you are supposed to win. We just didn’t have a huge inning that could match their consistent ability to score all game long.”
Ole Miss got off to a quick start, loading the bases in the first with no outs. The Rebels capitalized on a throwing error to push a pair of runs home before a sac fly to center from Overbey put Ole Miss on top 3-0 right out of the gates.
The Bulldogs answered, however, using a fielding error at short to spark a two-out rally that allowed Georgia to score a pair of unearned runs that cut the lead to 3-2 after the third inning of play.
Georgia moved into the lead in the fourth after back-to-back singles and a sac bunt put two men in scoring position for Levi Hyams. Hyams then hit a single through the right side to score both runners and give the Bulldogs the 4-3 lead on the Rebels.
The visitors from Athens continued to add to the lead in the fifth inning, using two more errors to push two more runs across and take the lead out to 6-3. The Bulldogs opened the inning with a single before Zach Cone hit a double to the wall in right center. A fielding error at short on the relay allowed Cone to advance to third and a throwing error to third sailed over the head of the baseman and allowed Cone to score on the same play.
Ole Miss cut back into the lead in the bottom of the fifth when Hightower scored on a sac fly to center from Blake Newalu that made the lead 6-4, only to see Georgia get the run back in the top of the sixth on sac fly from Curt Powell that scored Brandon Stephens.
Preston Overbey hit a solo home run in the sixth, and Tanner Mathis drove in a run in the seventh to cut the lead to one at 7-6, but again Georgia found an answer. The Bulldogs got a home run from Jonathan Hester in the eighth and an RBI single from Conor Welton in the ninth to move back out to a three-run lead at 9-6.
Miles Hamblin opened the ninth with a walk for the Rebels before Poole hit his home run into the terrace in left field to cut the lead to one, but Ole Miss could get no closer than 9-8 as Georgia held on to grab the win.
The two teams will take the field for game two of the series at 2 p.m. CT on Saturday at O-U Stadium Swayze Field. The contest will be televised by SportSouth.
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