BY PARRISH ALFORD
STARKVILLE – With Ricky Bowen's numbers on the mound, and the Ole Miss numbers at the plate, it looked like there was a train wreck about to happen on Sunday afternoon.
Indeed it was.
Bowen, Mississippi State's young right-handed pitcher who began the day with more earned runs allowed than innings pitched, came within a strike of the Bulldogs' first no-hitter in 23 years.
He allowed two singles, dominating the Rebels and closing with a swinging strikeout of Michael Guerrero to pitch State to its first SEC win, 4-0, before 3,025 fans at Dudy Noble Field.
Ole Miss won the series with 15-6 and 11-6 victories in the first two games. The fifth-ranked Rebels (13-5, 1-2 SEC) were going for the first sweep at Mississippi State since 1972, the year they last reached the College World Series.
In the ninth inning, Bowen had a 2-2 count on Ole Miss' Michael Hubbard when Hubbard's bouncing ground ball got through the left side just beyond the reach of third baseman Connor Powers.
“It's a shame he lost the no-hitter on a ball that was not that well hit,” MSU coach Ron Polk said. “The last two days every time they hit the ball hard it found real estate.”
In the first two games of the series Ole Miss batted a collective .402 with 33 hits and 26 runs.
Powers figured prominently in the no-hitter throughout the day. His error with two outs in the fifth on a ball from Zach Miller broke up Bowen's perfect game.
But it was Powers who rescued the no-hitter in the sixth when Sean Stuyverson smashed the ball off Bowen's leg. Power retrieved it and threw to first for the out.
Bowen said Ole Miss players were calling to him from the dugout, telling him he had a perfect game, an effort to jinx the pitcher in accordance with baseball superstition.
The sophomore showed no emotion in losing the no-hitter when Powers didn't make the ninth-inning play.
“I just said, Oh well.' I was not too upset. We had to focus on winning the game. There will be other chances I hope,” he said.
Indeed, even the outcome became suspect when Cody Overbeck followed Hubbard with an infield single that Russ Sneed gloved between the mound and shortstop. Jordan Henry had reached on a fielder's choice before Hubbard, and the bases were full for Guerrero, Saturday's night's hero with a three-run double.
More often than not, the Rebels didn't get good swings against Bowen, a sophomore from Jasper, Ala.
“It's disappointing we didn't compete better, but Bowen had a lot to do with that,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “He had a good mix, and we didn't know what was coming. We were out in front of the off speed stuff and got beat by the fastball.”
The Bulldogs (8-9, 1-2) got on the board in the fourth when Jason Nappi scored on a wild pitch from Nathan Baker.
State scored in the fifth on Tyler Moore's RBI single and stretched the lead in the sixth with two runs on two hits and two Ole Miss errors.
State had seven hits on the day. All nine hits in the game were singles.
“It's always important to beat Ole Miss when you're a Mississippi State Bulldog, especially when they have the high ranking and accolades that team has,” Bowen said. “Maybe this will be the win that gets something positive going for us.”