By Parrish Alford
PEARL – Ole Miss banged out 20 hits in a decisive Game 3 win against Mississippi State earlier this month, but the Rebels struggled against MSU left-handers Tuesday night.
MSU first baseman Wes Rea had an error to start a two-run Ole Miss sixth but doubled home two runs in the bottom of the inning, and the No 20-ranked Bulldogs picked up an 8-3 win in the Governor’s Cup game before a Trustmark Park record crowd of 8,496.
The game does not count in the SEC standings.
MSU left-hander Lucas Laster hit six Ole Miss batters but gave up only two hits through 5.1 innings. He was followed by Vance Tatum, another lefty, who threw 3.2 innings of one-hit, scoreless relief.
“After the Ole Miss series we put our foot down because we weren’t playing our brand of baseball. We stated that we wanted to play our brand of baseball and we’ve been doing that ever since,” Rea said.
MSU catcher Gavin Collins had three hits, and the Bulldogs (27-15) pulled away in the latter innings to win their fifth straight.
The No. 16-ranked Rebels (30-12) have been one of the top offenses in the SEC this season but have now totaled just nine hits and three runs over their last two games.
They had just six hits in a 2-0 loss that cost them the LSU series last Saturday. It was the first time Ole Miss had been shut out this season.
“It was really a team win. Since last Monday our kids have really come together and I hope we can stay on a roll here,” MSU coach John Cohen said.
While the bats were ineffective, Ole Miss almost pitched itself out of trouble twice, but the Bulldogs came up with the big hits.
Massie had runners at second and third with no outs and retired two before Collins’ hit drove home both runs for a 2-1 MSU lead in the bottom of the third.
Ole Miss regained the lead with two runs on no hits and Rea’s error in the top of the sixth. Laster hit three batters in the inning.
Preston Tarkington, the third Ole Miss pitcher, allowed the tying run on a ground ball but seemed poised to get out of the inning when Demarcus Henderson’s chopper to second bounced high over the head of Dalton Dulin. Rea was the next man up and got a sharply-hit ball down the third base line.
That made it 5-3, and the Bulldogs never looked back.
“They gave us a lot of opportunities early on. Their guy hit so many hitters, but we couldn’t get the big hit with runners on,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “It was the opposite when we were on defense. They got six two-out RBIs, and that’s what wins baseball games.”