Dogs outlast Rebs to take series finale

Mississippi State stopped a five-game losing streak at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field on Sunday. But it took a while - 17 innings to be exact, and five hours of baseball.

The Rebels, who lost 4-1, had won their last five games against MSU here - the first two this weekend and all three two seasons ago. The Rebs had their opportunities offensively to stretch the streak to six games but never came through to score in the game's final 12 innings. Ole Miss got 14 hits throughout the course of the day but only managed the lone run.

The 17-inning game tied the longest in Rebel history, joining a 17-inning, 5-4 win over Arizona in Oxford in 2001. That game was played over two days because of a weather situation.

Mississippi State, with 13 hits on the day and the SEC's top offense coming into the weekend, got to Rebel reliever Scott Bittle quickly in the top of the 17th after the sophomore entered to start the frame following stellar performances by starter Nathan Baker and usual closer Cody Satterwhite. Brian LaNinfa, who led off the 17th for MSU, bounced a ball over the wall in right center for a double to get the Bulldogs on course for victory. Connor Powers then singled over Zach Miller's head at second to put runners at the corners with no outs. Jet Butler's chop infield hit couldn't be fielded, and with no play anywhere, LaNinfa scored what proved to be the winning run for State. The Bulldogs added two more for insurance as .192 pinch-hitter Nick Hardy singled to drive home both runners.

"It was a great college baseball game where both teams competed," said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. "We had opportunities and couldn't get the hit, and they eventually got it."

MSU head coach Ron Polk said the Bulldogs took advantage of their chances late and the Rebels didn't.

"They had so many chances," he said of Ole Miss. "Bittle is good. Look at his numbers. Ole Miss is such a fine defensive ballclub. This was not an offensive game, and there was some good defense out there."

Bianco said his first two pitchers were outstanding.

"Baker was tremendous and so was Satterwhite," he said. You couldn't ask for more from them."

Of Bittle, Bianco said: "You've got to feel for the kid. It's disappointing and he showed a lot of guts coming out there and doing what he did. Eventually someone had to score and unfortunately it was off him."

Baker went seven innings and gave up only one earned run with five strikeouts and one walk. Satterwhite went nine innings allowing no runs on three hits with four strikeouts and two walks. Bittle's line read one inning, three earned runs, five hits, one strikeout.

"Things were working. They just hit," Bittle said after falling to 2-5 on the season, 0-4 in SEC games.

Satterwhite said there were a few quick innings among his nine, and that was a good thing.

"That helped the pitch count some," Satterwhite said, who threw 108 pitches. "I felt real good and tried to pump the zone with strikes. It was a long game, so you try to let your defense work."

Baker got back on course after South Carolina rocked him a week earlier.

"I don't even remember being in the game (today) actually," said Baker, who left the game in the eighth. "Last week shattered me. I felt a little shell-shocked, kind of a welcome to the SEC. I felt really relaxed today. I felt very good. I felt good with my fast ball today and was consistent. My slider was on most of the game. I felt like I was going stronger at the end, but in the eighth Cody came in and he is our closer guy - even though he pitched nine innings today."

State got a run in the first inning some five hours before the completion of the contest. Jeffrey Rea, who said after State's loss on Saturday that he would make sure his team knew the importance of Sunday's game, proved his point by getting a single and advancing to second on an error on Jordan Henry in right field. Rea moved to third on a ground out by Joseph McCaskill and scored on a ground out by Ed Easley.

Few would have believed that would be State's last run until the 17th. But it would be.

The Rebels had plenty of opportunities. An inopportune out came in the bottom of the sixth. Justin Henry walked and stole second. Zack Cozart singled but the ball bounced up and hit Justin as he moved from second to third and was out immediately. Justin might have scored or at least moved to third. Next up Cody Overbeck flew out to left, and on Logan Power's at-bat which followed, Cozart was out at second trying to steal.

The Rebels were primed to score in the bottom of the eighth but got nothing. With one out, Fuller Smith walked. JoJo Tann pinch ran for him, and Jordan Henry singled to left center to put runners on first and third. With a 2-0 count, State intentionally walked Justin Henry to load the bases. Cozart then hit the ball to MSU third baseman Conner Powers who threw home to the catcher, Easley, who stepped on the plate and Tann was out. The throw from Easley to first-baseman Mitch Moreland would have completed a double play, but the ball hit Cozart in the back and he reached. With bases still loaded, Overbeck hit it to Bulldog shortstop Jet Butler who stepped on the bag to end a serious Rebel threat.

As Satterwhite carried the Rebs on his shoulders inning after inning, the Bulldogs kept coming up with play after play on defense. In the bottom of the 11th, Justin reached on a single but State reliever Aaron Weatherford, who entered for starter Josh Johnson in the seventh, got the next three batters out.

In the bottom of the 12th, a two-out single by C.J. Ketchum was negated when Alex Kliman grounded out.

Jordan Henry reached on a single to start the bottom of the 13th. After Justin sac bunted him to second, the Bulldogs intentionally walked Cozart. The move worked like a charm as Overbeck grounded into a 5-4-3 double play.

In the bottom of the 14th Logan Power got a base hit to lead off. Zach Miller singled to put Rebs on first and second. Evan Button bunted but MSU reliever Moreland, who had moved to the mound from first, threw to third for the out as Button reached and Miller moved to second. Peyton Farr and Kliman then struck out swinging mightily.

After Jordan reached on a base hit to start the bottom of the 15th, Justin flew out to left and Cozart hit into a 6-4-3 double play.

In the bottom of the 16th, Overbeck reached on a single to left. Power sac bunted him to second. Cozart was intentionally walked, and again working to perfection from the Bulldogs' standpoint, a 4-6-3 double play was hit into by Button to give the Bulldogs life once more. This time they took advantage with three runs in the 17th.

Moreland (3-0) was the winning pitcher for State.

The Bulldogs improved to 28-12 on the season and 10-9 in Southeastern Conference play, while the Rebels fell to 30-16 and 12-9.

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