STARKVILLE, Miss. – After a first game where the Bulldogs proved to be the opportunistic team, the Rebels returned the favor on Saturday as No. 18 Ole Miss (28-15, 10-10 SEC) defeated Mississippi State (26-17, 9-11 SEC) by a score of 6-2 to even the weekend series.
The Rebels took advantage of a pair of errors in the seventh inning to push home two runs and claim the lead before using a third error at third base in the ninth to claim the 6-2 win.
R.J. Hively (4-3) picked up the win in relief, entering the game in the sixth with the score tied at two following a Mississippi State home run and allowed one hit with a walk and two strikeouts over the final 4.0 innings to pick up the win.
Kendall Graveman (3-3) suffered the loss, allowing four runs – three earned – on six hits with a walk and four strikeouts in 6.1 innings of work.
“This was another really good game,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “Mike Mayers and R.J. (Hively) were terrific today. We got the lead, Mississippi State tied it up and then we were able to take advantage of some opportunities and get the lead back. It’s tough against Graveman on the mound, but we got a huge hit from Austin Anderson in the seventh to get us the lead back.
“Hively was tremendous and really battled out there the final four innings,” Bianco said. “That’s what you want to see when you make a move like that and put him in the bullpen.”
Ole Miss got on the board first in the second game of the series when Matt Snyder hit a two-run shot to right field to give the Rebels the 2-0 lead in the first inning. Andrew Mistone scored on the play after reaching on a single up the middle before the two-out hit by Snyder got Ole Miss in the scoring column.
Mississippi State responded in the sixth, using a two-run home run from Mitch Slauter to tie the game at two. Adam Frazier scored on the play after reaching base on a full count walk in the previous at bat. Ole Miss then went to the bullpen for Hively, who retired the next three batters to end the inning.
The Rebels moved back into the lead in the seventh when Austin Anderson came up with an RBI single to right with two outs and men at first and second. Ole Miss took advantage of a fielding error on the platy to bring a second run home and take a 4-2 lead on the Bulldogs as the Mississippi State.
With Blake Newalu pinch running at second and Sikes Orvis on first due to a throwing error on a ground ball to third, Anderson delivered a single through the right side to score Newalu and advance Orvis to third. A fielding error by the third baseman on the throw to the bag from right field allowed Orvis to score as the ball got away from the fielder and went to the fence down the third base line.
The Rebels added to the lead in the ninth inning when Tanner Mathis was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and two outs to push home a fifth run on the afternoon. Mississippi State then turned to its bullpen for right-hander Jonathan Holder with the bases still loaded and two outs.
Mistone then struck out on a wild pitch, but the ball rolled up the third base line, allowing Mistone to reach and all runners to advance as Ole Miss took a 6-2 lead on the Bulldogs. Holder then got a fly out to center to end the inning with the Rebels holding to a four-run lead.
Hively shut the Bulldogs down in the ninth, retiring three straight batters to pick up the win for the Rebels and even the series.
Ole Miss and Mississippi State will take the field for the series finale at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday.
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