Eighth-inning rally spells trouble as No. 18 Rebels fall at Georgia

By School report

ATHENS, Ga. – The Rebels led for most of the game, but a six-run eighth inning from the Bulldogs put things out of reach as No. 18 Ole Miss (23-11, 6-7 SEC) fell to Georgia (21-13, 6-7 SEC) by a score of 8-4 in the series opener on Thursday.

Ole Miss held a 4-2 lead heading into the eighth inning, but the Bulldogs put together a big rally to move into the lead for the first time on the night with the six-run inning on the way to the win.

Brett Huber (1-2) suffered the loss in relief, entering the game with two men on and no outs in the eighth inning. Both runners belonged to Aaron Greenwood. Huber allowed four runs on four hits with a walk and a strikeout in 1.0 inning of relief work.

Michael Palazzone (1-4) picked up the win, working a complete game as he allowed four runs – only two of them earned – on nine hits with eight strikeouts in the outing.

“It’s frustrating,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “When you have a lead with six outs remaining, we have to figure out a way to close that out. We’ve tried different ways of handling that situation and we have to learn how to stop the bleeding and close it out.”

Ole Miss got on the board in the third inning, pushing two runs across the plate to break the stalemate. Singles from Andrew Mistone and Auston Bousfield put men at the corners with one out before Tanner Mathis singled through the right side to bring Mistone home. Bousfield then scored two batters later on a double from Alex Yarbrough and the Rebels held a 2-0 lead.

Georgia cut into the lead in the fifth inning, using three straight singles with one out to bring the first run home. The Bulldogs then got a fourth consecutive single to tie the game at two and Ole Miss turned to its bullpen for the sophomore right-hander Greenwood.

He then retired the next two batters to get Ole Miss out of the inning.

A wild sixth inning saw the Rebels regain the lead sparked by a pair of errors in left field on the same play. Yarbrough singled up the middle with one out before Snyder would hit a shallow fly ball to left. The Georgia left fielder dropped the ball, allowing Snyder to reach and then threw the ball wide of the bag at second and into right field on the play trying to erase Yarbrough from the base path. It allowed Yarbrough to score and moved Snyder to third base on the play with Ole Miss on top 3-2.

The Rebels added a second run in the frame when Will Allen singled up the middle to score Snyder and give Ole Miss the two-run lead back.

Georgia got things going again in the eighth, using a single and a walk to put two men on before a wild pitch advanced both runners to scoring position. With the count sitting at 1-2 to Peter Verdin, the Rebels turned to the bullpen for closer Brett Huber.

Huber loaded the bases with a walk before a ground ball to short got the Rebels the first out of the inning but brought a run home. With men at the corners, Georgia got a single through the left side from pinch hitter Nelson Ward to tie the game at four.

Georgia then loaded the bases for a second time on an infield single before the Rebels would get the second out of the inning with a strikeout. Kyle Farmer then put the Bulldogs on top for the first time in the game with a three-RBI triple to right center to give Georgia the 7-4 lead.

A sixth run came across the plate a batter later when Farmer crossed the plate on a single to right before the Rebels could throw out Hunter Cole at second trying to leg out a double making it 8-4 for the home team.

Ole Miss couldn’t put together a rally in the ninth as Palazonne closed things out to hand the Bulldogs the series-opening win.

The Rebels will face Georgia in game two of the series at 6 p.m. CT on Friday at Foley Field.