In a tight battle Saturday afternoon at Alex Box Stadium, the Ole Miss baseball team dropped a 3-2 decision to No. 8 LSU. The Rebels (22-14, 7-8 SEC) had the tying run on second in the bottom of the ninth, but a leaping catch in shallow right field prevented the comeback and gave the win to the Tigers (25-12, 9-6 SEC) in the series finale.
Tate Blackman homered for the third time in two games to increase his season total to five, tying Colby Bortles for the team high. Nick Fortes knocked in the Rebels’ other run to increase his reached base streak to eight games, while Will Golsan recorded his team-leading 11th multi-hit game of the year in a 2-for-4 showing. Ryan Olenek remained the Ole Miss leader in doubles with his 12th of the season. The Rebels equaled the Tigers in hits as each team totaled eight apiece.
In a battle between two freshmen on the mound, Ryan Rolison (4-2) suffered the loss by allowing three runs (two earned) in 5.1 innings. Out of the bullpen, Will Stokes retired all five hitters he faced in 1.2 innings of work. For the consecutive day, Dallas Woolfolk put together another scoreless relief appearance.
Josh Smith went 2-for-4 with the game-winning RBI to lead the Tigers at the plate. Greg Deichmann added a solo home run, and Eric Walker (5-0) earned the win by tossing 6.2 innings.
LSU took advantage of two Rebel miscues to score the game’s first run in the second. Two hits and an error put runners on the corners, but Rolison issued a pop-up for the second out of the inning. The freshman forced another groundball, but Blackman bobbled it at second which allowed a run to cross the plate. However, the Ole Miss second baseman made up for his mistake in the next inning. With two outs, Blackman hit a liner that cleared the fence in right field to square the game. The Tigers countered with a two-out homer of their own in the bottom half of the third. Deichmann’s solo shot reclaimed the lead for LSU, 2-1.
Rolison threw back-to-back scoreless innings to keep the game within a run going into the sixth. Grae Kessinger led off the inning with a chopper over the third baseman’s head. Not slowing down, the shortstop slid safely into second to leg out a leadoff double. Blackman hit a flyball deep enough to right field that moved Kessinger closer to home. However, with the infield in, Golsan smoked a line drive that found an LSU mitt. On the sharply hit ball, Kessinger was caught off the bag at third as the double play ended the inning with the Tigers still ahead.
LSU added a run in the bottom of the sixth courtesy of a double to right field and a single up the middle. The consecutive hits ended Rolison’s day, but Stokes came out of the bullpen to finish the inning and limit the damage.
The Rebels immediately got the run back in the seventh. Olenek roped an opposite-field double before scoring on a two-out single by Fortes. Another hit by Cole Zabowski forced Walker out of the game, but the move on the mound kept LSU in front, 3-2.
Ole Miss recorded a pair of hits in the eighth, but LSU once again escaped the inning without allowing a run and holding on to the lead. Woolfolk pitched a scoreless frame to give the Rebels one last chance at the lone-run deficit. Tim Rowe used patience at the plate to draw a five-pitch walk before the speedy Kyle Watson replaced him on the base path. Fortes followed by placing a perfect bunt in front of home plate to move the tying run into scoring position. Then, with two outs, Seamster lifted a ball that looked like it would fall into shallow right field to score Watson. However, LSU second baseman Cole Freeman jumped and hauled in the catch as he fell to the ground, keeping the Rebels inches away from tying the contest.
After spending the week on the road, playing four games in five days, the Rebels will have three days off until they return to the diamond. Ole Miss will begin a four-game homestand at Swayze Field, hosting Arkansas-Pine Bluff for a midweek matchup Wednesday, April 19. Following the non-conference affair, the Rebels welcome Missouri to Oxford for SEC play (April 21-23). The three-game series against the Tigers will be Military Appreciation Weekend at Swayze Field.
Courtesy of Ole Miss SportsHERE!