In front of more than 11,000 fans Friday night, the No. 19 Ole Miss baseball team broke out the bats to the tune of 11 hits, but the Rebels (16-11, 3-5 SEC) could not find the timely hits needed in a 5-3 setback to Mississippi State at Swayze Field. A pair of homers by the Bulldogs (18-10, 5-3 SEC) proved to be the difference in the rivalry contest.
Nick Fortes and Ryan Olenek both went 3-for-4 at the plate to pace the Rebels offensively. Not only did Fortes record a career high in hits, but he also knocked in two of the team’s three runs and threw out a baserunner. Olenek put together his third three-game of the year, and five other Rebels added singles.
The duo of David Parkinson (4-2) and Brady Feigl pitched all nine innings, combining to strike out 14 and only walking one. Parkinson suffered the loss in 4.2 innings of work but recorded eight strikeouts, one off his personal best. Feigl was superb in a long relief outing, lasting 4.1 frames without giving up a run. The Chesterfield, Missouri, native recorded six strikeouts and did not issue a base on balls.
Cody Brown hit a two-run home run and Brent Rooker added a solo shot to help MSU claim the win. Both Bulldogs, as well as three others, had two hits apiece. Ole Miss was able to force MSU starter Peyton Plumlee out of the game in the first inning, but Jacob Barton (2-0) pitched 3.2 innings out of the bullpen to get his team out of jams and collect the win. Spencer Price (8) earned his second save in as many games.
The first inning lasted 42 minutes but ended without a run. Parkinson battled through long counts to strike out three of the four hitters he faced before the Rebels threatened in the bottom half of the inning. Will Golsan and Olenek both singled, but Golsan was picked off at second during the next at-bat. Consecutive walks loaded the bases, bringing a quick end to Plumlee’s day. Barton entered the game and was able to work MSU out of the inning. With two outs, Cole Zabowski hit a groundball to shortstop, who raced Colby Bortles to second. The bang-bang play didn’t go the Rebels’ way as the game remained 0-0.
Despite the missed opportunity in the opening inning, Ole Miss found the board in the second. Fortes doubled to deep center field before advancing to third on a sac bunt. With the Mississippi State infield playing in for a play at the plate, Grae Kessinger smoked a base hit up the middle to score Fortes.
MSU answered with a run on a pair of hits in the third, but Fortes used his arm to catch the runner trying to swipe third base, closing out the half inning. The Ole Miss catcher proceeded to go to the bat rack to get his team the run back. Two singles set up Fortes for a base hit to right field. Bortles motored around third and slid into home safely, putting the Ole Miss ahead 2-1 through three innings of play.
The game turned in MSU’s favor in the fourth. Brown lined a two-run homer that just cleared the wall in right field, and the Bulldogs added another run to take a 4-2 lead. One inning later, Rooker hit a solo shot to increase the margin, but Fortes smacked his third hit of the game to get another run back for the Rebels. His RBI single up the middle made it a 5-3 contest.
After four straight scoring innings, the rest of the contest turned into the battle of the bullpens. Feigl held the MSU bats in-check to save the Ole Miss arms for the series finale, while the Bulldogs used a trio to hang on for the win. For the second consecutive night, the Rebels threatened in the ninth. Olenek roped a one-out double to the left-center gap, bringing the tying run to the plate. However, Price was able to retire team captains Tate Blackman and Bortles, two of the Rebels’ hottest hitters, to end the game.
Ole Miss will look to salvage the series tomorrow as freshman southpaw Ryan Rolison makes his first career SEC start. First pitch is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. from Swayze Field. The game can be seen on SECN+ and the ESPN app, while the Ole Miss IMG Sports Network will have the audio call.
Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports