OXFORD – The Rebels fell behind early and were unable to come back despite a furious rally as No. 7 Ole Miss (32-13) fell to Southern Miss (27-17) by a score of 6-4 at Trustmark Park on Tuesday night.
With the loss, the Rebels and Golden Eagles split the season series for the fifth straight season. The loss was also only the second mid-week loss of the season for Ole Miss who is 15-2 in mid-week contests with one more to go on Wednesday.
Nathan Baker (3-1) took his first loss of the season as he gave up five runs on six hits with a walk and three strikeouts.
Jeff Stanley (2-0) picked up the win for the Golden Eagles with 6.0 innings of work as he allowed four runs on nine hits with a walk and a strikeout. Collin Cargill took his eighth save of the season as he worked the final 30 innings and held the Rebels hitless with two walks and three strikeouts.
“We didn’t play that badly tonight, but Southern Miss played well,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “We didn’t get the hit with runners in scoring position and we didn’t hold off the big inning – and that’s two things we have done well all season. You have to credit Kameron Brunty for coming up with that big double to extend the lead and give them the big inning in the fifth. They were able to get the hit and we weren’t.”
Ole Miss left eight runners on base, six in scoring position. Zach Miller led the Rebels at the plate, going 3-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI.
Southern Miss got on the board in the first inning when Taylor W.lker scored on a sac fly to right field from Joey Archer. Walker walked to open the inning before moving to second on a single to left from James Ewing. He then took third on a fly out from Bo Davis before scoring on the Archer fly out to give the Golden Eagles the 1-0 lead.
Ole Miss answered in the bottom of the second when Kyle Henson hit his sixth home run of the season to tie the game at one.
Southern Miss reclaimed the lead in the fifth with a back-to-back singles after Kyle Maxie was hit by a pitch to open the inning. After reaching base safely, Maxie moved to third on a single from Tyler Koelling and scored on a single from Walker. The Golden Eagles then loaded the bases on a sac bunt attempt as Ewing reached on a fielder’s choice when Baker went to third, but the runner slid in safe as he collided with Miller on the play and the ball came loose, allowing everyone to reach safely.
Southern Miss then added a second run in the frame as Bo Davis grounded out down the first base line to drive in a run and push the lead out to 3-1 in favor of Southern Miss. Kameron Brunty then doubled to the wall in right field to drive in two more runs and send the Rebels to the bullpen for Aaron Barrett trailing 5-1.
Ole Miss cut back into the lead with a sac fly from Matt Smith to score Zach Miller in the bottom of the fifth. Miller walked before moving to third on a single up the middle from Logan Power to trim the lead to 5-2.
The Rebels again cut into the lead in the seventh when Tim Ferguson tripled to open the frame and scored on a single through the right side from Jordan Henry. The move sent Southern Miss to the bullpen for reliever Jonathan Johnston. Henry took second on a wild pitch and then scored on a single up the middle from Miller to bring the Rebels within one at 5-4.
With two outs in the eighth, Southern Miss moved the lead back to two runs as Corey Stevens scored from first on a double to left field. Stevens slid in safely ahead of the tag at the plate to put the Golden Eagles up 6-4.
Ole Miss could get no closer as the Golden Eagles held the Rebels off down the stretch to pick up the win and the series split.
Ole Miss will return to action on Wednesday when the Rebels host Arkansas-Pine Bluff at 6:30 p.m. at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field.
From school reports