No. 7-ranked Ole Miss was unable to answer the challenge. Cohen's Bulldogs broke open a 2-2 game with a four-run sixth inning and finished on top with a 6-5 win at packed-out Swayze Field on Friday night in the first game of the SEC series.
The loss dropped the Rebels (36-14, 16-9) out of a share of the SEC lead, as LSU defeated Florida 10-1.
The Rebels were never able to get the crowd of 8,907 into the game. Botched opportunities, particularly in the fifth when four different players reached base and none scored, came back to bite the home team as it left 10 runners on base.
State quickly countered in the top of the sixth with three straight hits by the top of the order. Grant Hogue reached on a single, and Cody Freeman and Connor Powers followed with RBI hits.
Before it was over the Bulldogs put up four runs on five hits and an error when Ole Miss right fielder Jeremy Travis misplayed a ground ball that resulted in the sixth run.
"We didn't have a great offensive night, but we had enough," Cohen said.
The Bulldogs (22-27, 7-17 SEC) got enough from their battered bullpen too. Ole Miss couldn't get MSU starter Tyler Whitney out of the game early, and relievers Greg Houston and Jared Wesson had his back.
Ole Miss had cut a 6-2 lead to 6-4 after a two-run triple by Kevin Mort, who scored what proved to be the Rebels' final run on a sacrifice fly. Houston gave up a one-out single but finished the eighth with back-to-back strikeouts of Jordan Henry and Logan Power, the top two in the order.
Houston got two quick outs in the ninth before giving up a double to Zach Miller. Wesson relieved and jumped on pinch-hitter Taylor Hashman with two quick curveball strikes. He missed high with a ball but ended the game with a swinging strikeout for his first save.
"Houston and Wesson have been good the last two weeks," Cohen said. "Wesson has found his breaking ball, and that's what we needed right there."
Bittle won't play
Afterward Bianco said he elected not to make ace pitcher Scott Bittle part of the active 25-man roster this weekend. Though MRI results on his right arm were negative earlier this week, Bittle, who has not lost as a starter, has not fully recovered from arm soreness that kept him out of the Auburn series. The Rebels' Sunday starter will most likely be right-hander Phillip Irwin.
The Rebels got 10 hits and five walks against Whitney but couldn't get him out of the game until Mort's triple.
State broke open a 2-2 game with four runs on five hits in the sixth. The Bulldogs started the inning with three straight hits against Drew Pomeranz from Grant Hogue, Cody Freeman and Connor Powers.
Pomeranz went 51/3 innings with eight hits, six runs and 11 strikeouts.
"They made the plays, and we didn't hit with runners in scoring position, and that's what makes us go," Bianco said. "The only concession was that we did hit some balls hard. It wasn't like strikeout after strikeout."