By Adam Brown
No. 9 Ole Miss dropped a 5-4 heartbreaker to the LSU Tigers on Thursday night in the series opener.
Ole Miss (27-11, 9-7 SEC) used the long ball against the Tigers. Kevin Graham and Hayden Leatherwood each had solo shots while Jacob Gonzalez had a two-run blast.
LSU took advantage of three Rebel errors in the first inning to get on the board first with two runs. Both runs that crossed the plate were unearned.
Ole Miss quickly answered with a home run off the barrel of Graham (7) on the first pitch of the at-bat.
The Rebels starter Derek Diamond stepped in for Gunnar Hoglund. Prior to the start of the game, Ole Miss released a statement that “Gunnar was a little stiffer than normal coming off of his last start. Rather than pitch him on short rest tonight, we decided to hold him out.”
Diamond was electric on the mound against LSU. The sophomore right-hander retired 11 straight sluggers from the end of the first until a hit by the pitch in the fifth.
In the fourth, Leatherwood (6) belted a home run to the student section in right field that tied the game 2-2 with the Tigers.
Ole Miss’ shortstop Gonzalez (5) smashed a ball down the right-field line to give the Rebels a 4-2 lead as Cael Baker came into score. Baker led the team at the plate going 3-for-5 with a run scored.
Diamond worked six-plus innings surrendered an earned run (two earned) on four hits and struck out four Tigers.
LSU got a leadoff double in the seventh, Bianco went to the bullpen and called on Taylor Broadway.
The Tigers climbed back into the game in the seventh with a two-run home run into the LSU bullpen off the bat of Dylan Crews. In the inning, LSU scored a total of three runs to go ahead 5-4.
Broadway (3-1) surrendered his first home run of the season. Broadway tossed the final three innings allowed two runs on seven hits with a walk and two strikeouts.
The Tigers tried to extend their lead in the eighth but John Rhys Plumlee made a catch and throw to second for a double play that ended the inning.
LSU brought in their closer in the seventh — Devin Fontenot worked three scoreless innings allowing two hits, with three walks and five strikeouts.
Ole Miss had the tying and go-ahead runners on base with no outs in the bottom of the ninth but could not get them home.
Ole Miss and LSU meet Friday night for game two of the series. The first pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. on SEC Network+.