By Adam Brown
No. 6 Ole Miss dropped the series to in-state rival No. 4 Mississippi State on Sunday with a score of 7-5.
Ole Miss (26-10, 9-6 SEC) could not overcome a late three-run deficit to win the series. The Rebels were led at the plate on the day by left fielder Hayden Leatherwood who went 2-for-4 with two home runs and three RBIs.
Mississippi State took an early 1-0 lead in the second as Brayland Skinner came home on an RBI base knock by Lane Forsythe.
Ole Miss’s starter Drew McDaniel made it tough for Mississippi State’s sluggers and only allowed two hits in the first two frames.
The Rebels got on the board in the third. After two outs, Jacob Gonzalez drew a walk. Then the Bulldogs pitcher loaded the bases after a single by Peyton Chatagnier and back-to-back walks to Kevin Graham and Hayden Dunhurst scored Gonzalez that tied the game at 1-1.
In the fourth, Leatherwood belted his first home run of the day that gave Ole Miss a 2-1 lead.
Mississippi State answered with a `home run by Rowdey Jordan in the fifth. Prior to Jordan’s home run, McDaniel had retired 10 straight Bulldog batters.
“(McDaniel) was terrific,” head coach Mike Bianco said.
In the top of the sixth, Leatherwood gave the Rebels the lead back with a two-run shot to right field that scored TJ McCants making the game 4-2.
McDaniel worked 5.1 innings; surrendered two runs on three hits, allowed two walks and struck out four batters.
“I felt good probably after the first two innings,” McDaniel said. “The first two innings, I kinda let my nerves get to me and it wasn’t my best stuff. I kinda figured it out and got back to my old ways after the first two innings. I felt like I pitched at a high level.”
Bianco made a call to the bullpen in the sixth and brought on Josh Mallitz. Mallitz could not record an out as he surrendered three runs on three hits and gave way to Austin Miller (0-1) who faced three batters and gave up the go-ahead run. Taylor Broadway came in to record the final out of the frame.
Mississippi State had a big sixth inning as five runs came across to score that was capped off by a triple of the bat of Tanner Allen. To give the Bulldogs a 7-4 advantage.
“It came down to the sixth inning — we just could not get off the field,” Bianco said. “Had to use three pitchers to get three outs. It’s unfortunate.”
Ole Miss scored its final run in the eighth, as Cael Baker had a base hit and came all the way around from first on an error by the third baseman on a hit by Ben Van Cleve.
Ole Miss returns to action on Tuesday as they start an eight-game homestand. The Rebels will play host first to Little Rock at 6:30 p.m. on SEC Network+.