By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – In climbing to the top of the division standings, Ole Miss pushed Mississippi State firmly into the cellar.
The No. 14-ranked Rebels bashed three home runs in a 19-11, seven-inning win Sunday at Dudy Noble Field, vaulting them into a tie with Arkansas for first place in the SEC Western Division.
It marked the first time since 1972 that Ole Miss (33-13, 14-7 SEC) has swept MSU in Starkville, and an announced crowd of 1,110 was on hand to witness it.
The 19 runs were the Rebels’ highest run total this year, and the most runs they’ve scored against an SEC foe since piling up 21 against Tennessee in 2006.
“Obviously, we’re jumping up in the standings, but we’re doing what we’ve always been doing this whole year, trying to play one pitch at a time,” said left fielder Taylor Hashman, who had a home run and four RBIs.
The game was called in the middle of the eighth because of inclement weather, and it was officially a seven-inning game. Per SEC rules, Sunday games halted by weather must resume before 6 p.m., and an exception was not granted by the league in this case.
MSU coach John Cohen was hoping to finish the game, but a downpour continued long after it was called off.
“I think that really benefits Ole Miss, when we’ve got to get three outs, they’ve got to get six,” he said. “I really liked our chances.”
The Rebels have won 10 in a row and own consecutive SEC sweeps for the first time since 2006. They took out LSU last weekend at home.
“We were really struggling two-and-a-half weeks ago, but they hung together and they put themselves in a very good position,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said.
MSU (20-23, 5-16) hasn’t won a home series against Ole Miss since 2002.
This is the first time since 2004 that MSU has been swept in back-to-back SEC series. The Bulldogs got the broom at Alabama last weekend.
State lost despite out-hitting Ole Miss, 17-15. Each team hit well with runners in scoring position – Ole Miss was 7 for 17, MSU 7 for 14 – and every starter in each team’s lineup had at least one hit.
It was an 8-8 game when Ole Miss scored four runs, all with two outs, in the fifth. Zach Miller had a two-run triple in that inning.
The route continued with a six-run Rebel sixth. Hashman cranked a three-run homer deep into the Left Field Lounge area – which was largely empty – for an 18-8 lead.
After State cut it to 18-11, Tim Ferguson belted a solo homer in the seventh for the final tally. Matt Snyder also homered for Ole Miss, a two-run shot in the second to make it 6-4 Rebels.
The day started ominously for MSU when freshman starter Luke Bole lasted just seven batters. He walked four – two with the bases loaded – and recorded two outs.
Young Bulldogs hit the wall
Cohen said he feels his freshmen pitchers – he used five of them Sunday – have hit a “wall” at this point in the season.
“I just feel like our young pitching just isn’t capable of being prime time SEC just yet,” Cohen said. “I think they will be, but they’re just not capable of navigating through an SEC weekend yet.”
Junior college transfer Chad Girodo (1-3) took the loss, while junior Eric Callender (4-1) got the win.
Ole Miss starter David Goforth was pulled with two outs in the third, having given up seven runs on nine hits.
A bright spot for MSU was freshman second baseman Sam Frost, who was 4 for 4 with two runs and two RBIs. Making his first start in three weeks, he raised his overall average from .203 to .241 and his SEC average from .152 to .243.
MSU committed four errors, and eight of the Ole Miss runs were unearned.