BATON ROUGE, La. (WTVA/Ole Miss Athletics) – No. 13 Ole Miss and No. 9 LSU were neck-and-neck through most of Friday night's contest at Alex Box Stadium, but the Tigers put together a four-run eighth inning to close the door on an 8-3 defeat for the Rebels to open the series.
Ole Miss put two runners on in the first inning, including a one-out single by Grae Kessinger to extend his reached-base streak to 35 games. The Rebels were unable to bring anyone home in the first, but they manufactured one in the second. Kevin Graham led off with a base hit, followed by a Cooper Johnson line-drive single to left. Anthony Servideo moved the pair into scoring position with a well-executed sacrifice bunt, and Jacob Adams gave the Rebels the early lead with an RBI groundout.
Junior right-hander Will Ethridge started his outing with a quick three-up, three-down first frame, but the Tigers pushed runs across in the second and third. In an inning early identical to the Rebels' in the second, LSU tied the game back up at one on an RBI groundout. Then in the third, the Tigers strung together three base hits to take a 3-1 lead.
The Rebel starter got back on track in the fourth, working around a single and an error for a scoreless frame.
Ole Miss then started the fifth with back-to-back base hits by Servideo and Adams, chasing LSU starter Ma'Khail Hilliard. The Tigers brought on Zack Hess in relief, who induced a 6-4-3 double play that allowed Servideo to come home for the Rebels second run, making it a 3-2 game.
LSU got that run back in the sixth, starting with a leadoff single by Josh Smith. Gavin Dugas then sent him home on an error, making it a two-run advantage for the Tigers once again.
Johnson cut the lead back down to one on the first pitch of the seventh inning, smashing a towering home run all the way out of Alex Box Stadium. Ethridge then turned around and retired the Tigers in order to end a solid outing. The Rebel starter went 7.0 innings with four runs allowed, three earned, on seven hits with no walks and four strikeouts.
Ole Miss threatened in the eighth but was unable to cash in. Keenan started it with a one-out base hit. Josh Hall then came in to pinch run and quickly made his way to third on a stolen base and a passed ball. Cole Zabowski walked and Graham was hit by a pitch to load the bases, but a strikeout by Hess halted the Rebel rally.
Tyler Myers came on to relieve Ethridge in the eighth and gave up back-to-back base hits, bringing Austin Miller out of the bullpen. A sacrifice bunt, followed by a sacrifice fly, made it a two-run Tiger lead. Then Daniel Cabrera and Drew Bianco hit back-to-back home runs to break the game open.
Ole Miss had one last chance in the ninth, loading the bases with two outs on three straight walks, but the comeback wasn't meant to be. The Rebels and Tigers will meet back at The Box for a 6:30 p.m. CT first pitch Saturday night.
- Ole Miss fell to 30-17 overall and 13-9 in SEC play.
- With a single in the first inning, Grae Kessinger extended his reached-base streak to 35 games. He has hits in 26 of 31 games since the start of SEC play.
- Kessinger extended his hitting streak to nine games.
- Tyler Keenan went 3-for-4 on the night, his seventh game this season with three or more hits.
- It was Keenan's 14th multi-hit game of the season.
- The Rebels suffered just their second loss of the season by more than four runs.