Lynn limits State as Rebels clinch series

The Rebel offense waited a little while to get started, but that was just fine thanks to another dominant performance from Lance Lynn.

The sophomore right-hander was one pitch from back-to-back shutouts as he steamrolled the Mississippi State lineup for a 5-1 Ole Miss win Saturday in front of a raucous attendance of 7,312.

Lynn's one blemish was a wind-aided long ball by Jeffrey Rea that put the No. 17 Bulldogs (27-12, 9-9) ahead in the third inning, but a late Rebel rally will make the right-hander's eight-inning, six hit and nine strikeout performance much more memorable than the mistake.

Also on the day, Lynn moved into ninth all-time for Ole Miss strikeouts in a season with 99.

"The story of the day is Lance Lynn," head coach Mike Bianco said. "He was super dominant, and you just have to understand that he isn't going to give up a lot of runs. The three-two fastball to Rea that just gets out. That's baseball, but the wind's blowing out."

State starter Justin Pigott frustrated No. 18 Ole Miss (30-15, 12-8) for five innings before Cody Overbeck doubled in the sixth and Logan Power followed with a single to knot the score, but the Rebels weren't finished.

After a hit by pitch and a groundout, senior C.J. Ketchum dumped a ball into right field that scored two runs and gave Lynn his first lead of the day at 3-1.

"They got that one hit legit," Pigott said. "And then that bloop hit, and you can't do anything about it. It was a pitch where I wanted to throw it… We didn't do a very good job of fighting back. It is tough luck."

Ole Miss added insurance in the seventh inning when Jordan Henry singled to open and backup shortstop Jet Butler sailed a throw past the first baseman that would have ended the inning. Henry scored on the error and Zach Miller brought in Overbeck with a single to complete the afternoon's scoring.

Pigott's book closed after 6.2 innings pitched where he allowed eight hits and five runs (three earned). The junior is now 3-4 on the season.

"Lance Lynn (5-3) was good today, and Pigott was equally good," State skipper Ron Polk said. "We had some opportunities but elevated some fly balls and didn't capitalize."

Some credit was also given to the home-field advantage.

"This has become a tough place to play," Polk said. "Ours is too, but Ole Miss is more anti. They were on me pretty good in the third-base coaching box. It is a tremendous advantage."

The entire storyline could have been different had it not been for a huge defensive play by the Rebels in the fifth inning. Two singles and a hit by pitch loaded the bases for the Bulldogs, but an inside fastball by Lynn jammed Rea into hitting a soft liner to Overbeck, who stepped on the third-base bag to complete the double play. Lynn fanned Butler three pitches later to end the inning.

"They had one of their best hitters up, Rea, but I got a fastball in on him," Lynn said. "He hit it right at Overbeck for the double play, and I started cruising after that."

Another Bulldog wouldn't reach third the rest of the game, and Cody Satterwhite pitched a perfect ninth inning to finish things.

Ole Miss has now taken two straight and the series from MSU and crept within two games of Arkansas thanks to an Auburn victory on Saturday.

The Rebels are getting hot, while the second consecutive series loss for the Bulldogs has made tomorrow of increased importance for State.

"The series is over," Rea said. "It'll be great to get one. It could mean us getting into a regional. It could mean us getting into the (SEC) Tournament."

Ole Miss and MSU conclude the weekend at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow. Freshman Nathan Baker of the Rebels will oppose senior Josh Johnson of the Bulldogs.

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