Rebels stop State with 3-1 win

HOOVER, Ala. - The No. 5 seeded Rebels finally began their SEC Tourney opener at 9:37 p.m., and Will Kline's dominance lasted into the next morning.

The junior baffled the fourth-seeded Bulldogs for a complete nine innings and recorded 10 strikeouts as Ole Miss (36-21) methodically knocked Mississippi State (33-19) into the loser's bracket with a 3-1 victory before a raucous split crowd of 6,192. The Red and Blue is now ahead in the season series 3-2.

The Rebel triumph combined with an upset by Tennessee pits Ole Miss versus the Volunteers at 8 p.m. on Thursday. Tennessee kept Vanderbilt hitless for seven innings and held on for a 6-4 win.

"It is impossible not to get pumped up for a game like this," Kline said. "All my pitches were working, and I felt good. This was a big win we had to have, and we got it."

Kline's punch-out total gives him 123 on the season and the Ole Miss single-season record. Albeit maybe for only one day because Thursday starter Lance Lynn is sitting at 120 himself.

"Lance is going tomorrow, and I will be rooting for him then," Kline said. "I haven't thought about that record."

State starter Justin Pigott took his second loss of the year against Ole Miss after going seven innings and allowing three runs on seven hits.

Ole Miss took the early advantage in the second inning with Zach Miller leading off with a single and stealing second two pitches later. Logan Power followed with a walk before C.J. Ketchum and Kyle Mills responded with back-to-back singles.

"We have been working on staying back and driving balls through the middle all week," Mills said. "That was a big key tonight. One guy did it, and then everyone else noticed and got going. We are good enough to work on things and make adjustments."

The third inning was a disappointing one for Ole Miss as Jordan Henry led off with a single, but Zack Cozart flew out on a great play by Mark Goforth and Henry was doubled up because he did not retouch second base on his way back to first.

But the fifth inning would prove lucrative with Mills walking to open and Jordan Henry was hit by a pitch. JoJo Tann pinch ran for Mills and was driven in on a single by Justin Henry for the Rebels' final run.

State broke across for its lone run of the game during the bottom half when senior Jeffrey Rea singled and stole second. Ferriss Award winner Edward Easley delivered with a sharp single to plate Rea.

That would be it for the Bulldogs as Kline buckled down late in the game and finished it off with a strikeout of Connor Powers.

"Will just had one of those nights," head coach Mike Bianco said. "It was a great effort, and we needed every bit of it."

State will be back at the park at 1 p.m. for a loser's bracket date with David Price and Vanderbilt.

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