ATHENS, Ga. – On a night where the hits were even, it was the timing of the hits that proved to be the difference as No. 18 Ole Miss (23-12, 6-8 SEC) fell to Georgia (22-13, 7-7 SEC) by a score of 6-3 on Friday night at Foley Field.
The two teams matched hit production with nine hits each, but the Bulldogs came up with the big hit early to push out to an insurmountable lead on the Rebels.
R.J. Hively (3-3) took the loss for the Rebels, allowing five runs on seven hits with a walk and five strikeouts. Ole Miss would use four pitchers on the night as Tanner Bailey, Josh Laxer and Hawtin Buchanan closed things out down the stretch, combining to limit the Bulldogs to one run on two hits with three walks and six strikeouts in the final 5.0 innings.
Alex Wood (5-1) picked up the win for the Bulldogs, working 7.1 innings and allowing three runs on eight hits with two walks and seven strikeouts. Bryan Benzor picked up his first save, working the final 1.2 innings and holding the Rebels to one hit. Benzor entered the game with two men in scoring position and one out in the eighth inning and Georgia up 5-1.
“Alex Wood was tremendous tonight and just wouldn’t give in,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “We had scoring opportunities early and we didn’t get them in. We have to maximize opportunities. Georgia was able to get the timely hit the past two days and really get the clutch hit.”
Georgia got on the board in the second inning when Curt Powell hit a two-RBI double to the wall in right field with two outs. The two-run hit was set up by a shot up the middle from Connor Welton that deflected off the glove of Hively and into the outfield, allowing the lead runner to move to third on a ball that would have gotten the Rebels out of the inning.
The Bulldogs built on the lead in the fourth inning when Jared Walsh took the first pitch he saw over the wall in right field to make it 3-0 in favor of Georgia.
The lead continued to grow from there with the Bulldogs pushing two more runs across the plate. One man on, Connor Welton reached on a fielder’s choice on a ground ball to short for the first out before a single through the right side put men at the corners. Georgia then executed a double steal to bring home a run and move Powell to second.
Powell took third on a wild pitch and scored a batter later on a sac fly to center before Ole Miss would get out of the inning down 5-0.
Ole Miss cut into the lead in the fifth inning when John Gatlin delivered and RBI-double down the third base line that scored Preston Overbey. Overbey doubled to the wall in right center in the previous at bat to open the fifth for the Rebels. The run put Ole Miss on the board with the score at 5-1.
The Rebels continued to chip away at the lead in the eighth, getting two runs home to cut the lead in half. A Bousfield single and Yarbrough double opened the inning before a Will Allen ground out brought Bousfield home. Yarbrough advanced to third on the play and then scored on an infield single from pinch hitting Austin Anderson to make it 5-3.
Georgia got a run back in the bottom of the inning when Peter Verdin scored from second on a single to center from Welton. Bousfield made a nice throw to the plate from center, but Verdin evaded the tag to score and Welton advanced to second on the play.
The three-run lead would hold as Ole Miss could manage nothing in the ninth and Georgia clinched the weekend series.
Ole Miss and Georgia will play the final game of the three-game set at noon CT on Saturday.
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