The Rebels are ranked second nationally, but, on Wednesday, they were second-best in Oxford as well.
Ole Miss (9-1) was lethargic for the majority of the contest, as Arkansas State (5-4) jumped all over the home team early, stealing the momentum and thwarting potential rallies for a 7-5 victory before an announced crowd of 4,396.
The Indians torched Rebel starter Phillip Irwin (1-1) for eight hits and six runs in only two innings. The sophomore began the third but failed to record an out before Mike Bianco went to the bullpen. In all, ASU generated ten hits and led by multiple runs from the first inning on.
"I like my team," Indian head coach Keith Kessinger said. "We were aggressive when we needed to be, and I will be honest. We came down here to win a game. We try to hit it where it is thrown, and we found some holes. There is no doubt, we got some ground ball base hits."
Ole Miss failed to get through a half inning without damage until the fourth frame and only scored in two different innings itself. Trailing 6-0, Logan Power drilled a two-out grand slam into the left-field seats, but that would be the only big inning for the high-scoring Rebels.
Matt Smith provided Ole Miss' final run with two outs in the seventh on a double off the wall to score Cody Overbeck. The extra-base hit pushed the score to its final total, as Ole Miss didn't have a base runner reach over the final two innings.
"You credit Arkansas State for playing well, but the disappointing thing is we didn't," Bianco said. "You don't deserve to win when you play like this. We were fortunate it was this close."
The Rebels only notched five hits, and no Ole Miss batters turned out multiple hits for the first time this season.
Meanwhile, ASU entered hitting only .224 but the Indians picked up five hits in the first inning to set the tone. Irwin was tagged throughout, and it was Arkansas State doing the damage. Irwin didn't allow a free pass and threw 38 of his 48 pitches for strikes.
"I was throwing a ton of strikes, but I left the ball just a little up, and they were ready for it," Irwin said. "I felt like everything was working and don't think I threw a curve that wasn't a strike. I can't say I didn't have my best stuff today. That is what is frustrating."
Fielding was also an issue with the Rebels committing four errors that led to three unearned runs.
The Ole Miss bullpen continued to impress, surrendering just one run over the final seven innings. Jake Morgan tossed four complete, while Wade Broyles and Drew Pomeranz pitched one and two innings respectively.
Arkansas State used five pitchers to stymie Ole Miss, as Kessinger's strategy of not letting the Rebels see a pitcher more than once paid off. Starter Jordan Kimball (1-0) allowed Power's home run but grabbed the win, while Nick Lambert (1) picked up a save for his perfect ninth.
The Rebels travel to TCU for a three-game set, while the Indians begin league play with Sun Belt favorite Louisiana-Lafayette.
"We did exactly what we hoped," Kessinger said. "Our league starts Friday, and we didn't want to jeopardize our chances there. We were able to save every starter and mix in a bunch of bullpen guys. It worked. I am proud of my guys."
Silence at Swayze
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