GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Rebels got men in scoring position, but couldn’t come up with the big hit when they needed to early as Ole Miss (24-20, 9-12 SEC) dropped the series finale to No. 4 Florida (34-10, 17-4 SEC) on Sunday by a score of 7-2.
Ole Miss put men in scoring position in four of the first five innings, but couldn’t get a run home until a Will Allen single in the seventh inning put the Rebels on the board. Matt Smith added a home run in the eighth inning to move into sole possession of second place on the all-time list for home runs at Ole Miss with 41 for his career.
Austin Wright (4-4) suffered the loss for the Rebels as he allowed four runs on five hits with a strikeout in 2.2 innings of work.
Karsten Whitson (6-0) grabbed the win for Florida as he held the Rebels scoreless through 6.0 innings and allowed three hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
“You have to tip your hat to Florida,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “They played terrific and got the big hits to extend the lead. We stayed out of giving up the big inning, but we just couldn’t stop them. Florida pitches well and their command is good, they got the big hits and make all the plays defensively. They just kind of smother you out there.”
Florida took the early lead, scoring in the first on a sac fly to left field from Nolan Fontana that brought Bryson Rose Home. Rose doubled down the left field line before a wild pitch moved him to third to set up the score on the Fontana fly ball. Mike Zunino then doubled before scoring on a single up the middle from Preston Tucker that put Florida up 2-0.
The Gators added to the lead in the third inning, pushing two more runs across the plate when Zunino came up with a two-RBI double that scored runners from first and third.
Zunino repeated the feat with his third double of the afternoon in the fifth inning to drive in two more runs and spark a Florida rally. Tucker then singled to drive in Zunino and put the Gators on top 7-0 after five innings of play.
With the Rebels threatening to put together another rally in the bottom of the sixth, Ole Miss turned to the bullpen for Jake Morgan. Morgan, who was seeing his first action since the March 20 game against Alabama, got the Rebels out of the inning with a groundout.
Ole Miss got on the board in the seventh when Allen singled to right field to drive in Matt Snyder from third. Snyder reached on a fielding error in left on a fly ball before taking third on a wild pitch to set up the score on the Allen hit.
Smith then hit his solo shot in the eighth inning to cut the lead to 7-2 which proved to be the final score.
Ole Miss will return to action on Wednesday when the Rebels travel to face Arkansas State in Jonesboro, Ark., at 6:30 p.m.
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