GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Rebels got off to a quick start, but it was the Gators who surged to the finish as Ole Miss (24-18, 9-10 SEC) fell to No. 4 Florida (32-10, 15-4 SEC) by a score of 9-3 in the series opener on Friday night at McKethan Stadium.
Matt Crouse (6-3) took the loss as he allowed six runs on nine hits with two walks and a strikeout in 4.0 innings of work.
Hudson Randall (8-1) picked up the win for the Gators as he allowed three runs on six hits with six strikeouts in 7.1 innings of work.
“It was their night offensively for sure,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “They were locked in. They got a lot of hits, but not a lot of extra-base hits early which is why we were able to keep things in check until they extended the lead late. Defensively they make all the plays and don’t allow you opportunities.”
Alex Yarbrough got things started for the Rebels when he hit his fifth home run of the season, a solo shot to right center, to put Ole Miss on the board in the first inning.
The Gators got a run back in the bottom of the inning, using a bases loaded sac fly on a foul ball to right from Austin Maddox to drive in a run. Crouse got another foul fly to end the inning and leave the game tied at one after the first inning of play.
A two-out rally in the second inning put the Gators in the lead when Vikash Ramjit scored on a single to left from Bryson Smith. Ramjit doubled with two outs in the previous at bat to set up the score on the Smith hit that gave the Gators the lead.
Ole Miss got the run back in the top of the third when Austin Anderson led things off with a double before a sac bunt from Blake Newalu and a sac fly to right from Tanner Mathis brought the freshman home to tie the score at two.
Florida again moved back into the lead in the third inning, using a sac fly from Brian Johnson with men at the corners to push Preston Tucker home. Tucker walked before moving to third on a single from Austin Maddox to set up the score on the Johnson fly out that put Florida up 3-2.
The Gators added to the lead in the fourth inning, using a two-RBI single from Mike Zunnino to move out to a 5-2 lead on the Rebels. A double and a hit batter started things off before a sac bunt put both Gators in scoring position with one out. Zunnino then came up with his single – his first hit ever against the Gators – to drive in both base runners. Ole Miss got back-to-back pop outs to end the inning down three.
Austin Anderson came up with a two-out home run in the fifth inning to get a run back for the Rebels. It was the first home run of his career for the freshman from Florida as Ole Miss cut the lead to 5-3 against the Gators.
A home run from Brian Johnson opened the bottom of the fifth for the Gators to put the home team back on top by three at 6-3. The Rebels would then turn to the bullpen for Eric Callender to relieve starter Matt Crouse. Three straight singles loaded the bases, but Callender was able to retire the next three batters to keep the Rebels within three of the Gators.
Florida added a run in the seventh and two runs in the eighth to push the lead out to 9-3.
The Rebels got two men on in the top of the ninth, but couldn’t get a rally from there as Florida claimed the series opener. The two teams return to action on Saturday at 6 p.m. at McKethan Stadium.
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