Grinding Out Another Win

STARKVILLE – It was another grind it out game as for the second night Ole Miss beat Mississippi State in baseball, this time 12-10.

For the third time this season the Rebels beat the Bulldogs in a two-run game. First it was a 5-3 win in Pearl in late March and a 4-2 victory Friday night here.

The Rebels extended their win streak to nine and stand 32-13 overall and 13-7 in Southeastern Conference play. MSU is 20-22 and 5-15.

The Rebels claimed their fourth straight regular season baseball series in Starkville with the two wins.

"A little different than (Friday) night," said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. "(Friday) night it was all about pitching and defense. Tonight was more about offense. Tonight we got a lot of timely hits, a lot of big two-out hits and did a good job offensively."

Trent Rothlin, the fourth of five Ole Miss pitchers used in the contest, went 3.0 innings and faced 10 batters, with five strikeouts and no runs, hits, or walks.

"Rothlin was tremendous on the mound," Bianco said. "It seemed like there in the middle innings when we just could not put up a zero and stop them from scoring, he came in and did a great job. He really won the game for us."

"I came out of the pen and tried to just think about pounding the zone," said Rothlin, who pitched innings six through eight before Brett Huber came in for the second straight night to close it down. "I just wanted to get ahead of batters. I was able to spot my breaking ball, and that was really helpful. I think that was the biggest thing for me tonight."

State led 5-2 going into the top of the fifth inning, and the Bulldogs had just chased UM starter Aaron Barrett. Fifth-year Rebel senior Rory McKean got the final out of the fourth to keep things right there.

But the Rebels scored five runs in the top of the fifth to move ahead 7-5. And that was only the beginning of quite a scoring fest. MSU tied it in the bottom of the fifth 7-7, and we started all over.

Ole Miss appeared to take control in the top of the sixth with four more runs for a 11-7 advantage. MSU changed pitchers three times in the inning and committed two errors to open the door widely for the visitors.

But the four-run lead was quickly reduced to just one as the home team came right back with three of its own in the bottom of the sixth. Matt Crouse had relieved McKean in the bottom of the fifth and was lifted in favor of Trent Rothlin after two Bulldog runs were in during the sixth. Rothlin managed to again halt the Bulldog rally with UM up 11-10.

Things stayed that way until the Rebels, who outhit MSU 14 to 7, got a run in the top of the ninth on a RBI double to the left field wall by Tim Ferguson.

"It was tough out there," said Ferguson, the Rebels' centerfielder, of the wet conditions. "It was a puddle going from the (infield) dirt to the Polk-Dement Stadium sign (on the center field wall). I knew I was going to have to deal with it. In warm-ups, I buried my cleats in water just to get used to it.

"It was tough to stay mentally focused," Ferguson continued. "We came out swinging and we did OK. This was huge to win here for the fans and all the allegiance of Ole Miss. This is a big series, and we're glad to win it."

And now there is Sunday.

"Nothing would be sweeter than to sweep State," Ferguson said.

Ole Miss last swept Mississippi State in 2005 in Oxford.

Sunday's game is set for 1:30 p.m.

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