OXFORD, Miss. – Despite an early advantage, the Rebel bullpen couldn’t hold on down the stretch as No. 13 Mississippi State (37-15, 14-13 SEC) chipped away at the lead to down No. 20 Ole Miss (35-17, 14-13 SEC) by a score of 7-6 in Sunday’s series finale.
With the loss, the Rebels missed out on a sweep of the Bulldogs after picking up a 3-0 and 10-8 win in the first two games of the series.
Scott Weathersby (0-2) took the loss in relief for the Rebels, allowing two runs on two hits with a walk in 0.2 innings of work as Mississippi State pushed five runs home in the sixth inning to cut the lead to one run and took the lead with a two-run seventh inning.
Ben Bracewell (1-1) picked up the win, working the final 5.0 innings and holding the Rebels scoreless with one hit and three strikeouts to give Mississippi State the chance to rally.
“It was obviously a disappointing way for us to finish the weekend after having a six-run lead,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “As I told the guys, they out played us today. We had a six-run lead going into the sixth inning. The truth of the matter is they just played better. They hit better and ultimately they pitched better. They hung in there, and we couldn’t stop them at the end. They had a lot of base hits and at bats. Obviously we didn’t pitch well enough at the end.”
Ole Miss jumped out to the early lead with a three-run first inning. Sikes Orvis drew a bases-loaded hit by pitch to push the first run home before Preston Overbey laced a grounder to short that took a last second hop over Adam Frazier who tried to adjust on the play, but couldn’t make the stop to bring two more runs home.
The Rebels then added three more runs in the third inning, taking advantage of miscues by the Bulldogs to push the lead out to six runs. It started with a walk and a hit batter to put two men on before a sac bunt moved them into scoring position. A ground ball to first looked to be an out, but the throw home was off the mark to allow Stuart Turner to score from third and Andrew Mistone to go home from second on the play. Sikes Orvis, who hit the ground ball, went to second on the error before scoring on a single to left from Auston Bousfield made it 6-0.
The Bulldogs cut into the lead in the sixth, loading the bases with one out before the Rebels would turn to the bullpen in relief of starter Bobby Wahl. Mississippi State then turned in back-to-back RBI-single and an RBI double to push four runs home and send Ole Miss to the bullpen again for Weathersby.
The right-hander got a sac fly and before getting the Rebels out of the inning still up 6-5 on the Bulldogs.
Mississippi State wasn’t done, however, using back-to-back singles to open the seventh and send the Rebels to the bullpen once again for left-hander Matt Denny. A sac bunt and a walk loaded the bases before Denny would record a strikeout to put two outs on the board. Adam Frazier then doubled to right field to bring in two more runs and give the Bulldogs the lead for good at 7-6.
Bracewell then held Ole Miss off the board down the stretch as Mississippi State picked up the win and avoided a series sweep at the hands of the Rebels.
Ole Miss will return to action with four games on the road this week, beginning with a 6:00 p.m. contest at Southern Miss on Tuesday night. The Rebels will then close out the regular season with a three-game series at No. 3 LSU on Thursday evening.
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