OXFORD – A four-run sixth inning lifted Mississippi State past in-state rival Ole Miss 6-5 in a Southeastern Conference baseball game Friday night at Oxford-University Stadium.
The Bulldogs won a weekend conference series opener for only the second time this season. The victory snapped MSU’s six-game skid in conference play. It also kept the Bulldogs mathematically alive in the SEC Tournament race. Thanks to the MSU win and LSU’s victory over Florida, the Rebels fell out of first place in the overall SEC race. UM now trails LSU by a single game in the Western Division race and is tied with Florida for second overall in the league race.
MSU is now 22-26 overall and 7-17 in league play, while seventh-ranked UM fell to 36-14 and 16-9.
The Bulldogs broke a 2-2 tie by scoring four times in the sixth inning. The Rebels tried to answer scoring three times in the eighth inning, before relievers Greg Houston and Jared Wesson shut the door.
Junior left-hander Tyler Whitney sparkled for the Bulldogs. Whitney was lifted after UM touched him for three straight hits in the eight inning. Houston entered with a runner at third base and no outs in the eighth inning. A sacrifice fly cut the lead to 6-5. Houston then allowed a one-out single bu t bounced back for back-to-back strikeouts to end the eighth inning.
An inning later, Houston recorded back-to-back outs before being touched for a two-out Zach Miller double. Wesson entered in relief, striking out pinch hitter Taylor Hashman to end the contest.
Whitney (3-4) allowed 10 hits and five runs (all earned), with five walks and a strikeout. For Wesson, it was his first career save with the Bulldogs.
Ole Miss opened the scoring with a lone run in the first inning. MSU answered in the second inning when Scott DeLoach hit his first career home run with the Maroon and White.
The teams again traded runs with UM scoring in the third inning and MSU again tying the contest an inning later.
The Bulldogs then chased UM starter Drew Pomeranz with four runs in the sixth inning.
For MSU, Grant Hogue started things with a leadoff single. Cody Freeman followed with an RBI-double down the left field line. Connor Powers then lined an RBI-single, plating Freeman. After a strikeout and walk to DeLoach, Ryan Collins chased Pomeranz with a single. An outfield error on the hit scored the final two Bulldog runs, extending the lead to 6-2.
Zach Miller and Jeremy Travis started things in the Ole Miss eighth inning with back-to-back singles. Kevin Mort followed with a triple, ending Whiney’s day. A sacrifice fly by Evan Button scored Mort but the Rebels could do no more.
MSU finished with 11 hits. Collins and Brent Brownlee had multiple hits.
Ole Miss finished with 12 hits. Miller had three hits, while Travis and Henry each had two hits.
Pomeranz (5-3) worked 5-1/3 innings, allowing eight hits and six runs (four earned), with 11 strikeouts and one walk. David Goforth and Nathan Baker threw in relief for the Rebels.
The Bulldogs and Rebels resume the series with a 3 p.m. start on Saturday. MSU is scheduled to start freshman left-hander Nick Routt (4-3, 3.54 ERA), while UM is scheduled to start senior left-hander Brett Bukvich (8-1, 3.63 ERA). The contest will be televised regionally by Fox Sports Net South. The 1:30 p.m. Sunday series finale will be shown by Comcast Sports Southeast.