OXFORD, Miss. (WTVA/MSU Athletics/Ole Miss Athletics) – After waiting through a two-hour rain delay to start the game and a 30-minute fog delay in the sixth inning, the No. 5 Mississippi State baseball team came away with a 2-0 series-opening victory over No. 11 Ole Miss on Friday at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field.
Mississippi State (40-10, 16-9 SEC) opened the scoring with a run in the second inning, before adding one in the fifth. Ole Miss (32-18, 15-10 SEC) was shut out for the first time all season.
MSU redshirt-junior Ethan Small (7-1) used 82 pitches to complete his five innings and posted his 10th career double-digit strikeout performance with 10 strikeouts on the night. His 10 strikeouts on the night moved his season total to 132, which ranks No. 6 on the single season list, passing Chris Stratton (127; 2012). His career total now sits at 274, which moves him into No. 4 on the career list. In the game he passed Mike Proffitt (265; 1969-72), Matt Ginter (269; 1996-99), B.J. Wallace (271; 1990-92) and Paul Maholm (273; 2001-03).
Small allowed three hits and walked one batter to earn his third-straight win and sixth overall in SEC play, before leaving following the fog delay. Senior Jared Liebelt came on in the sixth inning and fired the final four innings to earn his fifth save of the season. He allowed three hits and struck out two in the career-high four-inning effort.
Sophomore Tanner Allen delivered both RBIs in the game, as he plated the first run of the game with a double in the third inning and pushed the second run across with an RBI single in the fifth. Junior Gunner Halter and sophomore Jordan Westburg each scored one run in the game, with Westburg reaching base three times in the contest.
For Ole Miss, Grae Kessinger extended his reached-base streak to 38 games with a single in the fourth inning. Kessinger recorded his 24th multi-hit game of the season, a team-high.
Will Ethridge went 6.0 innings with two runs allowed on six hits with four strikeouts and two walks. It was Ethridge's seventh start with two runs or fewer allowed.
Houston Roth has allowed just one run in his last five outings. Tonight was his fourth shutout effort in his last five appearances.
The Bulldogs and Rebels will meet at 6 p.m. on Saturday before the series finale is slated for Sunday at noon.