No. 24 Bulldogs drop series finale to Ole Miss

MSU won the series 2-1.

Posted: Apr 16, 2018 10:57 PM
Updated: Apr 16, 2018 11:33 PM

OXFORD, Miss. (WTVA/Ole Miss Athletics) – On a night that belonged to Ole Miss senior Elantra Cox, the Rebels came out on top in a back-and-forth affair on a chilly Monday night at the Ole Miss Softball Complex, defeating Mississippi State 7-6.

Seven pitchers in all manned the circle Monday night, four for the Bulldogs (32-12, 6-9 SEC) and three for Ole Miss (22-18, 5-13 SEC). Ava Tillmann earned the win for the Rebels after closing out the final three innings with no runs scored on two hits and a walk, striking out three.

Senior Kaitlin Lee made the start, allowing three runs on four hits with a pair of strikeouts in her three innings. Freshman Anna Borgen relieved Lee in the fourth and completed the frame, allowing three runs on three hits.

It didn’t take long for Cox to make some noise, leading off the bottom of the first with a triple to center field to spark the Rebels. The throw came home on Kylan Becker’s grounder but Cox was able to beat the tag, giving Ole Miss an early lead and also entering the Rebel record books. It was the 141st time crossing the plate in the senior’s career, the most runs scored by any player in Ole Miss history.

After Becker stole second, Dylinn Stancil came through with a single up the middle, allowing the speedy junior to come all the way around to make it 2-0 at the end of the first.

The Bulldogs battled back to tie the game in the third inning as Mia Davidson drilled a two-run homer to left field. However, Ole Miss came right back to regain the lead in the home half in bizarre fashion.

Becker led off with a single to the pitcher and advanced to third on a failed pickoff attempt that went wide of the bag. Stancil popped up into foul territory and Sarai Niu was able to make the catch while falling into the MSU dugout. Becker took off for the plate and appeared to be tagged out but because the throw was made from outside the field of play in the dugout, Becker was awarded home, putting the Rebs up 3-2.

The lead didn’t last long for the Rebels. MSU tied the game in the fourth on a Carmen Carter RBI single to left and later in the frame jumped ahead as Carter Spexarth launched a pinch-hit three-run home run to right-center.

Undeterred, the Rebels continued to fight. Speed was the key in the bottom of the fourth as Paige McKinney bunted an infield single, moved to second on a fly out to center, stole third and came in on a wild pitch.

With the lead down to two runs, Ole Miss completed the comeback in the fifth. A single, walk and HBP loaded the bases. After a fielder’s choice and strikeout, it looked as though Ole Miss may waste the opportunity but Amanda Roth drew a walk to drive in a run and Cox completed her milestone night with a clutch single through the right side, plating Kaylee Horton and Autumn Gillespie to push the Rebels back ahead at 7-6.

MSU loaded the bases in the sixth but Ole Miss quelled the threat with a fielder’s choice to McKinney at short, who tossed to Roth at third to end the inning. The tying run again reached third in the seventh, testing the mettle of Tillmann. The freshman didn’t waiver, fanning Carter to wrap up the victory for the Rebels.

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