The No. 15 Bulldogs (24-8) and No. 19 Rebels combined for a midweek series record 23 runs, and State came out on the winning end by a score of 14-9 thanks to a seven-run fifth that featured three straight runners walked in by Ole Miss in front of a Trustmark record crowd of 8,012. The Rebels were also giving in the defensive department with four errors for the first time all season.
"It was just all the pitching that was disappointing," head coach Mike Bianco said. "In front of a great crowd, but we just didn't play better. Two things that are our constants are our pitching and defense and those things failed us tonight. We fell apart that one inning."
Mississippi State had scored a combined one run in the previous two midweek matchups against Ole Miss, but the Bulldogs notched double digits by the fifth inning Tuesday.
The Ole Miss offense fought an up-hill battle all night, but produced 16 hits to keep the game within reach. The Rebels batted around on two occasions, scoring four runs each time, but failed to produce crooked numbers during any other inning as they left nine men on base.
Senior Craig Rodriguez started for Ole Miss but couldn't muster the same magic as the last two Mayor's Trophy starters. Eric Fowler and Will Kline each pitched shutouts through seven innings in 2005 and 2006 respectively, but Rodriguez lost his shutout after recording only one out. The left-hander's final line equaled four runs on five hits in two complete innings of work.
"That first inning I felt good, but they hit the ball well," Rodriguez said. "That first left-hander hit a pitch down the line and everything kind of spiraled after that."
Ole Miss sent a total of six pitchers to the hill with Jesse Simpson, Justin Cryer, Phillip Irwin, Cody Satterwhite and Brett Bukvich all joining Rodriguez. Bright spots were tough to find, but Irwin had the best day of the bunch allowing only one run after 2.2 innings. Also, Satterwhite appears to be at full health as 95 flashed on the Trustmark radar gun after one of the righty's fastballs.
Simpson (1-1) received the loss with three runs in 2.1 innings of work.
State starter Tyler Whitney (4-1) didn't fare much better, but earned the win, as he was yanked after four innings and seven runs given up. The Rebels tallied 10 hits off the freshman.
The Bulldogs jumped ahead with three runs in the first and another in the third for a quick early advantage. The Rebels responded with four of their own in the bottom half of the third as Justin Henry, Zack Cozart, Cody Overbeck and Zach Miller all produced an RBI.
It was a new ballgame going to the fourth, but the marathon top of the fifth finished with Ole Miss facing a deficit too big to overcome. State broke the tie and led by seven thanks to three hits and five free passes. Cryer walked in two runs and Irwin walked in a run on his first batter of the game.
Another comeback attempt was manufactured in the bottom of the fifth with three straight singles by the Henry brothers and Cozart.
Jordan and Cozart both bunted for base hits. All three scored as well as Miller on an RBI single from C.J. Ketchum.
That brought the deficit to three, but State would add two runs in the eighth and a run in the ninth to seal the deal. Ole Miss finished its night of scoring as Justin Henry scored after tripling in the eight.
Jordan Henry's four hits topped the Rebels, while Justin Henry finished with three of his own. Cozart and Ketchum also finished with multiple hits.
The Rebels return to the field this weekend by hosting SEC-East leading South Carolina in a three-game series.
"It was a huge game for us offensively," Jordan Henry said. "We will definitely take that momentum to the weekend. It is good to see us swing the bats well and be aggressive."
State bats, Rebel miscues lift Bulldogs
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