Rebels Fail to Sweep, Lose 3-2

AUBURN, Ala. - Streaks were snapped on Sunday as Auburn (20-11 overall, 1-8 SEC) salvaged game three and broke an 18-game SEC losing streak with a 3-2 win over No. 13 Ole Miss (21-9, 5-4). The Rebels had won five games in a row and four straight in the conference before the finale.

Auburn grabbed an early lead with clutch at-bats and held on for the win in front of 2,087 fans at Plainsman Park. The defeat was Ole Miss' seventh one-run setback of its nine losses this season.

"We didn't show up early and that gave them the momentum," head coach Mike Bianco said. "We just didn't do enough on the mound, in the field or at the plate."

Rebel starter Craig Rodriguez (1-1) allowed all three Tiger runs during the first two innings and was credited with the loss after 3.2 innings of six-hit pitching.

One bright spot on the day was relief pitcher Justin Cryer. The recuperating right-hander produced his best outing of the season in relief of Rodriguez, going 3.2 innings and allowing one hit. Scott Bittle followed Cryer in the eighth inning and effectively finished the frame in order.

Cryer is still not full strength after Tommy John surgery in 2005 but led the bullpen to a scoreless afternoon. The Rebel pen didn't allow a run all weekend.

"I felt good and gave our team a chance to win," Cryer said. "A middle reliever's job is to come in and hold the opponent right where they are. I was able to do that today."

Tiger starter Taylor Thompson pitched into the fifth inning and allowed one run on five hits with two strikeouts and four walks.

The pitcher of record was reliever Johnny Thompson (1-1), who was banged up for a run on three hits in one inning of work.

Brett Butts picked up the save with a perfect ninth inning.

It was strictly a day of missed opportunities for the Rebels as the sweep wasn't carried out thanks to nine runners left on base and losing the defensive battle to the Tigers. Six of those nine runners were stranded in scoring position.

A first-inning error by third baseman Cody Overbeck ended Ole Miss' 51-inning errorless streak. Auburn left-fielder Mike Bianucci later received a carom off the top of the wall after a Logan Power smash and threw out Power at second to save a run during the sixth inning.

Zack Cozart and Fuller Smith led the Rebels offensively with two hits including a double apiece, but the Rebel shortstop said that the day was a disappointment all the way around.

"It was just a bad day," Cozart said. "They got two big two-out hits and we weren't able to do anything. We didn't string anything together and that is what you have to do in this league. They are 0-8, but that is how good this league is. If you don't play well, you won't win."

The Tigers struck with two runs in the first inning and one in the second inning to seize the momentum and put Ole Miss on its heels. Bruce Edwards was hit by a pitch to leadoff the first inning and Luke Greinke followed with a single.

A Bianucci groundout and a single from Joseph Sanders plated the two runners.

Auburn continued in the second inning when Ross Smith scored on a single from Andy Bennett. Smith reached on a single as well.

The Rebels finally rallied with a run in each of the sixth and seventh innings to bring the deficit to one.

Freshman Jordan Henry singled and advanced on brother Justin Henry's grounder before Cozart drove him in for the Rebels' first run.

The Rebels final run came when Smith doubled and was driven in on a single from catcher Brett Basham.

Ole Miss went quietly in both the eighth and ninth innings.

The Rebels attempt to regroup Tuesday at home against Arkansas State. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

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