OXFORD, Miss. (Ole Miss Athletics/WTVA) - No. 10 Ole Miss had won 10 straight Southeastern Conference series at home going into Sunday, but the streak ended after a couple of close losses in a doubleheader against Kentucky.
Playing two 7-inning games due to a rainout on Saturday, the Rebels fell 4-1 in Game 1 to the Wildcats and 4-2 in the second game of the doubleheader.
Game 1 Recap
Kentucky drew first blood with a solo home run in the second inning. The Wildcats added another in the third following a leadoff double by Zeke Lewis, who came around to score on a single to left center by Coltyn Kessler.
The Wildcats tacked on two more in the fourth after a blooper dropped in between three pursuing Rebel defenders. Two batters later, Dalton Reed homered to make it a 4-0 Wildcat lead and chase starter Doug Nikhazy. Junior right-hander Tyler Myers took the reins for the Rebels and escaped the inning when Cooper Johnson gunned down a would-be base stealer for the third out.
The visitors threatened in the fifth after a leadoff single by Austin Schultz. Schultz attempted to come all the way around from first on a two-out double by Jaren Shelby, but a relay from Thomas Dillard to Grae Kessinger to Johnson erased him at the plate to end the inning.
Another threat came in the sixth when the Wildcats put two men on base with no outs. Max Cioffi inherited the game with one out and runners second and third. The sophomore out of Chicago struck out the first batter he faced then induced a pop-up to escape the jam.
The Rebels had a scoring opportunity in the sixth. Kessinger started it with a walk, then Thomas Dillard came aboard on a single. It appeared as though the Rebels would load the bases when two outs when Johnson reached on a throwing error, but Kessinger was called out for interference.
Cioffi turned in a one-two-three inning in the seventh, striking out all three Wildcats to give the Rebel offense one last shot. Kevin Graham came in and smacked a pinch-hit home run to put Ole Miss on the board. Carl Gindl followed with a single, but a pair of flyouts ended the potential rally, snapping a six-game SEC win streak for the Rebels.
Game 2 Recap
The second game opened as a pitcher's duel. Rebel starter Gunnar Hoglund struck out the side in the first, and Wildcat starter Zack Thompson followed suit, retiring Ole Miss in order in the bottom half.
Hoglund again sat down the Wildcats in order in the second, while Cole Zabowski became the game's first baserunner with a two-out double to right center. Knox Loposer followed with a walk, but the Rebels couldn't get them home with two down as the game remained scoreless.
It was another one-two-three inning to open the third as Hoglund worked through the UK order the first time in perfect fashion. Ole Miss got another two-out baserunner courtesy of a Grae Kessinger single but again couldn't cash in.
The Wildcats broke through in the fourth. Austin Schultz reached on a hit-by-pitch to start the inning, then a Coltyn Kessler single made two baserunners. With two outs and an 0-2 count, T.J. Collett sent a three-run home run over the right-center wall to give Kentucky a 3-0 lead. More two-out scoring came in the fifth for UK, when Shultz doubled off the left center wall to bring home the fourth run.
Ole Miss returned serve with some two-out magic of its own. Jacob Adams drew a two-out walk, followed by a base hit to center field by pinch hitter Michael Fitzsimmons. Then Kessinger came up and roped a double down the left field line to score Adams, as well as pinch runner Anthony Servideo all the way from first to cut the lead to two.
Austin Miller pitched a perfect seventh inning to give the Rebel offense one last chance at a comeback. The Rebels nearly pulled it off. A Kessinger single and walks to Tyler Keenan and Thomas Dillard loaded the bases, but a lineout and a strikeout halted the comeback attempt.
Ole Miss will return to action Tuesday to host Memphis at 6:30 p.m. CT at Swayze Field.
- Ole Miss fell to 25-12 on the season and 9-6 in SEC play.
- The Rebels had a streak of 10 straight home SEC series wins snapped.
- Kevin Graham hit the Rebels' first pinch-hit home run since Michael Fitzsimmons' pinch-hit home run in the 2018 SEC Tournament championship game.
- Grae Kessinger had a 10-game hitting streak snapped in Game 1 but turned in a 3-for-4 performance with two RBI in Game 2 to stay hot.
- Kessinger has reached base safely in 25 straight games.
- Cole Zabowski had hits in both games today to extend his hit streak to 11 contests.
- Austin Miller turned in his second straight scoreless outing, going 2.1 with just one hit, no walks and four strikeouts in Game 2.
- Kessinger recorded his 16th multi-hit performance in Game 2, which leads the team.
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