Not Quite

Ole Miss was six outs away from winning its first baseball series in Baton Rouge since 1982. But those last two innings proved costly for the 11th-ranked Rebs as second-ranked LSU prevailed again on Sunday.

It looks like Ole Miss has found its Sunday starter. Scott Bittle, moving from the closer role, was all but unhittable in LSU's 2-1 win over the Rebels.

But as the final score indicates, the Rebel offense wasn't quite up to the task with only three hits and the lone run on the day.

Bittle worked seven innings with only one hit, two walks, and 10 strikeouts.

Jake Morgan, so solid all season in the closer role, suffered the first loss of his career as he worked the eighth inning and allowed two runs on three hits with three strikeouts.

There was also a costly error in the inning, the only one for either team in the contest.

The Rebels, who have now lost four of their last five games, dropped to 16-8 on the season and 5-4 in Southeastern Conference play. LSU is now 21-6 and 6-3.

"He was tremendous," Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said of Bittle, who he had told last Sunday after Ole Miss' loss to Alabama that he would start this Sunday. "Jake was good as well in the eighth. In a game like this where there are not many hits and runs, you have to do everything you can to push runs across. I thought we made it a little too easy on their pitcher."

Tiger starter Austin Ross (4-2) picked up the win as he worked 8.0 innings and allowed only one run on two hits with a walk and five strikeouts. Matty Ott earned his third save of the year as he closed out the ninth and held the Rebels to one hit.

Bittle, who was making his first Sunday start of the year, helped Ole Miss take a 1-0 lead into the eighth inning before giving way to Morgan after 91 pitches.

"I didn't know how deep I was going to get to go in the game because of a pitch count," Bittle said. "From the first inning on, I was just trying to go one more, one more, one more and just kept going."

Bittle said his gameplan worked like he would have hoped.

"The key was to get ahead and stay ahead," Bittle said. "I did that for the most part."

Sean Ochinko welcomed Morgan with a leadoff single on a 2-0 pitch, with Chris McGhee subbing in to pinch run. After McGhee stole second, Micah Gibbs struck out swinging. But then Rebel second baseman Tim Ferguson was unable to handle a Mikie Mahtook sharp single, allowing McGhee to score and tie the game at 1-1.

Tyler Hanover struck out swinging for the second out of the inning, but Mahtook stole second. Jared Mitchell followed with a bloop single to right field to give the Tigers a 2-1 lead they would never relinquish.

Ole Miss left the tying run at third in the top of the ninth as Logan Power flew out to shallow left to end it.

"I thought both teams played well," Bianco said. "I thought they just did a little more than we did."

Ole Miss won Friday night 7-4, and LSU won Saturday 6-5.

Ole Miss hosts Arkansas State Monday night at 6:30, the first of three non-conference games in a row this week. Ole Miss is at home to Jackson State Tuesday night at 6:30 and plays Memphis at Autozone Park Wednesday night at 6:30.


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