AUBURN, Ala. – The Rebels led through 6.5 innings of play at Plainsman Park, but a late surge from the home-standing Tigers meant trouble as Ole Miss (24-17, 9-9 SEC) fell to Auburn (22-17, 9-9 SEC) by a score of 9-7 in the series finale on Saturday.
Holding to a 7-5 lead in the seventh inning, the Rebels gave up a three-run shot to Kevin Patterson that gave Auburn the first lead of the game. Ole Miss wasn’t able to come up with an answering rally in the final two innings as the Tigers grabbed the win.
R.J. Hively (0-2) took the loss for the Rebels in relief as he allowed three runs on three hits with a walk in 2.1 innings of work.
Slade Smith (2-0) grabbed the relief win for the Tigers, holding the Rebels to two runs on four hits with three walks and four strikeouts in the final 7.0 innings of work. Smith entered the game to relieve starter John Luke Jacobs in the third inning with Ole Miss holding to a 5-2 lead on the Tigers.
“It’s disappointing to swing the bat that well, especially early, and not come away with the win,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “You have to tip your hat to Auburn, though. They kept swinging. We got behind some batters and they are too good offensively to fall behind them, because they make you pay for it.”
Ole Miss got off to the quick start, using a pair of walks to put Tanner Mathis and Matt Smith on board before Matt Tracy came up with a two-out shot over the wall in right center to give the Rebels a 3-0 led in the first.
Auburn got a run back in the bottom of the inning when Justin Fradejas scored from third on a single up the middle that deflected off the glove of Wright. Fradejas reached on a single before going to third on back-to-back groundouts to third before cutting the lead to 3-1 on the Caldwell hit.
A two-out single with the bases loaded in the second from Alex Yarbrough pushed two more runs home for the Rebels as Ole Miss moved out to a 5-1 lead on the Tigers in the second inning.
Auburn got a run back in the second and a run back in the third, loading the bases both times before the Rebels were forced to trade a run for an out. Each time, the Rebels were able to get out of the bases loaded jam by holding the Tigers to one run in each frame.
The Rebels moved back on top by three in the fifth inning when Matt Snyder doubled to left center to score drive in two runs. The junior was thrown out at third attempting to stretch the hit into a triple and Auburn got a fly-out from the next batter to end the inning with Ole Miss up 7-4.
The fifth inning again saw the Rebels trade a run for an out after a double and a groundout pushed Dan Gamache to third. A groundout from Kevin Patterson got the run home for the Tigers and the lead was cut to 7-5 in favor of the Rebels.
Kevin Patterson then hit a three-run shot to right field in the seventh inning to give Auburn the first lead of the game, moving the Tigers out to an 8-7 lead on the Rebels.
Auburn took the lead out to two runs in the eighth when Wes Gilmer came up with a two-out single to right that scored Tony Caldwell from second. Caldwell doubled off the wall in left with one out before coming home on the two-out hit from Gilmer. Gilmer was out on the play trying to go to second to get the Rebels out of the inning down 9-7.
The Rebels couldn’t muster a comeback in the final frame, dropping the game 9-7.
Ole Miss will return to action on Wednesday night when the Rebels host Arkansas-Pine Bluff at 6:30 p.m. at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field.
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