PEARL, Miss. – In what was a quirky game all around, the biggest quirk play of the night went against the Rebels as No. 12 Ole Miss (30-12) fell to No. 20 Mississippi State (27-15) by a score of 8-3 at Trustmark Park in the annual Governor’s Cup game on Tuesday.
Ole Miss took a lead in the sixth inning without the benefit of a hit, using an error, three hit batters and a sac fly to bring two runs home. Mississippi State also used a unique inning in the home half of the frame to move back in front, capitalizing on a big hop off a ground ball that bounced high over the head of the fielder at second base who was in position to make the inning-ending play.
The Bulldogs would go on to score two more runs in the inning and not relinquish the lead from there.
Preston Tarkington (0-1) took the loss in relief for the Rebels, allowing one run on one hit in his 0.1 innings of work. The run was only the first inherited run allowed this season by the reliever in his 15 appearances.
Vance Tatum (2-0) picked up the win for the Bulldogs with his relief outing, working 3.2 innings and allowing only one hit after entering the game in the sixth inning. Tatum struck out three batters.
“We only got three hits and didn’t apply pressure consistently,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “We had opportunities, but we couldn’t get that big hit. They did the opposite on their side and got the big hits tonight and the two-out RBI.
“Tonight was that game that we really haven’t played all season,” Bianco said. “We’ve been aggressive and got big two-out hits. On the mound we’ve been able to make the pitch and get off the field. We didn’t do that tonight.”
Ole Miss got on the board in the first inning when Austin Anderson hit a sac fly to center field that scored Braxton Lee from third. Lee was hit by the first pitch of the game before going to third on a single through the right side from Auston Bousfield to set up the score on the Anderson fly ball.
Mississippi State got a rally going in the third, starting things with back-to-back singles from Matthew Britton and Seth Heck to open the frame. A wild pitch moved them both into scoring position, but it looked like Massie and the Rebels might escape the inning with a groundout to third and a strikeout in the next two batters. Gavin Collins then delivered a two-RBI single to right to score both runs and put the Bulldogs up 2-1 before Sikes Orvis would snag a line drive to end the inning.
Ole Miss got its chance and made a move in the sixth inning, using a fielding error at first to put Austin Anderson on base at second. A ground out put the first out on the board before the Rebels would capitalize on the error. Brantley Bell and Sikes Orvis were both hit by a pitch to load the bases before Preston Overbey would bring the tying run home when he was also hit by a pitch. The move sent Mississippi State to the bullpen for left-hander Vance Tatum.
Errol Robinson then drove a sac fly to right field to score Bell and give Ole Miss the lead back 3-2 before the inning would end on a groundout.
The Bulldogs answered in the home half of the inning, using a leadoff walk and a hit-and-run on a single through the right side to put men at the corners. A ground ball to second got the first out on the board, but a run scored to tie the game at three and send the Rebels to the bullpen for the second time in the inning. This time left-hander Matt Denny relieved right-hander Preston Tarkington.
Denny promptly struck out the first batter faced and looked to have an inning-ending groundout, but an awkward hop on the dirt kept the inning alive. Wes Rea then delivered a two-RBI double down the left field line to put MSU on top 5-3 and a throwing error on the relay from short to the plate moved Rea to third base before the Rebels would get out of the inning.
Mississippi State continued to build on the lead in the seventh, loading the bases with one out on a walk, a hit batter and a single to right to set up the rally for the second straight inning. A fielder’s choice on a ground ball to second put a second out on the board, but took the lead out to three runs for the Bulldogs. A single through the left side from Alex Detz extended the lead further to 7-3 in favor of Mississippi State.
Ole Miss again turned to the bullpen, calling on right-hander Josh Laxer with two on and two outs in the seventh. Laxer got a strikeout to end the inning, but the Rebels trailed by four runs.
The Bulldogs took the lead out to five runs in the eighth inning, bringing home the final run of the night for the 8-3 margin of victory as Ole Miss was unable to put together a rally in the ninth.
The Rebels return to action on the road this weekend, traveling to face the Kentucky Wildcats in a three-game series at Cliff Hagan Stadium. Friday’s opener is set for a 5:30 p.m. CT first pitch, while Saturday and Sunday’s game are slated to start at 12 p.m. CT.
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