Ole Miss unleashed an offense not seen before this season with 22 hits en route to a 17-7 series-opening win before a season-high home crowd of 7,638 at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field.
"We were real good offensively," said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco, his team now 29-15 on the season and 11-8 in Southeastern Conference play. "That was the game tonight. We were just locked in, and we were able to not only put a good first inning up, we put a good three innings together at the start. Just a good night for us offensively."
A Brian LaNinfa base hit up the middle scored Jeffrey Rea who had walked and moved to second on a Mitch Moreland single up the middle, and the Bulldogs led 1-0 early.
But Ole Miss answered and then some. In the bottom of the first the Rebs got four runs. Jordan Henry got things started with a first-pitch single over shortstop Brandon Turner's glove and the rout was on. Justin Henry sac bunted Jordan to second. Zack Cozart's single was just over Turner's glove again as Jordan scored.
An error on MSU third baseman Conner Powers, who bobbled a ball hit to him by Cody Overbeck, allowed the Rebel third baseman to reach. After Logan Power flew out to left, Evan Button singled up the middle to score Cozart. Zach Miller followed with a single up the middle to score Overbeck. Fuller Smith then singled over Powers' head at third to score Miller.
After State got nothing in the second, four more Rebel runs went up on the scoreboard in the bottom of the frame. Jordan tripled to left center, and Justin doubled to left center to score him. Cozart was hit by the first pitch from Bulldog starter Chad Crosswhite. After Overbeck grounded out, Power got everybody home with a three-run shot over the left field wall for an 8-1 Rebel advantage.
"I knew we were capable of scoring like this," said Power, now with eight home runs on the season, second only to Overbeck's 10. "It's good to see that happen, and this was a really good win for us."
Power said it hasn't been easy to get to this point offensively for this year's team.
"It's just been hard work," he said. "It's been day in and day out working with the coaches and trying to get better. All we needed was to get our confidence up. It seems like that hard work is finally paying off."
It was three up three down for MSU in the third, and the Rebels put up a six-spot in their half. Justin's triple to right center scored Brett Basham and Jordan, both aboard with singles.
After Cozart popped up, MSU head coach Ron Polk made a pitching change. Jesse Carver came in and was welcomed by Overbeck, who sent the first pitch he saw over the left field wall, a two-run shot that also got Justin home. Power followed with a single and eventually scored as two errors were committed on a pickoff play. Zach Miller and Kyle Mills each singled, and Basham doubled to score Miller for a 14-1 UM lead after three.
State scored three in the fourth and two in the fifth to chase Rebel starter Will Kline. Brett Bukvich came in with the bases loaded and two out in the fifth. He got Bulldog Jeffrey Rea to fly out to left center as Justin made an over the shoulder catch to end it with the Rebs up 14-6.
Kline ended his outing allowing six runs on eight hits with four strikeouts and five walks. Bianco said it wasn't his best night.
"It was actually a good time to have your worst outing of the year," Bianco said of Kline. "And he knows that. He's a Mississippi kid and it may be the last time he faces Mississippi State. There was a lot of adrenaline pumping through his body. By the fourth inning you could see it in his face. He looked exhausted out there."
The Bulldogs kicked it around a little more in the bottom of the fifth as two Rebel runs scored to made the UM advantage 10 runs again. Ole Miss added a run in the sixth for a 17-6 lead, and after MSU added a run in the top of the seventh, the scoring was done for the night.
"We scored seven runs which is normally enough to win a Friday ballgame, but Ole Miss found holes," said MSU head coach Ron Polk, whose team fell to 27-11 and 9-8. "Crosswhite left some balls up, and we didn't make some plays behind him. Some games you have it and some games you don't."
Bukvich (5-2) got the win, going 4.1 innings with one earned run on three hits with five strikeouts and two walks.
Crosswhite (5-2) got the loss, allowing eight runs on 12 hits with a strikeout in 2.1 innings. Carver went the rest of the way allowing five earned runs on 10 hits with a strikeout and two walks.
Bianco said it's good to see the Rebel offense, which has scored at least six runs in the last seven games, continue to come around.
"We've pitched well this season and played great defense, but there've been some games we just didn't score enough runs," he said. "We're beginning to look like the ballclub we thought we would be."
The two teams meet again at 3 p.m. Saturday, a game televised live on Fox Sports Net South. Sophomore RHP Lance Lynn (4-3, 2.64 ERA) goes for Ole Miss, while junior LHP Justin Pigott (3-3, 5.58 ERA) takes the mound for State.
Rebs score early and often to defeat Dogs
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