OXFORD, Miss. — Mississippi State gave up a three-run home run to Ole Miss in the bottom of the first inning, and that proved to be the difference as the Bulldogs fell to the Rebels 4-2 Thursday night at Swayze Field in the first game of the three-game Southeastern Conference series.
With the loss, the Bulldogs fall to 22-17 (6-10 SEC), while the Rebels improve to 22-15 (6-10 SEC).
Hits were even at 5-5 for the contest, with home runs being the only source of runs. Sophomore Kellum Clark led MSU with a 2-for-3 night at the plate with a home run, while senior Brad Cumbest was 1-for-3 with a home run. For Ole Miss, junior Hayden Dunhurst was 2-for-2 with a home run and senior Kevin Graham was 1-for-4 with a three-run homer.
Senior pitcher Brandon Smith (2-3) started for the Bulldogs and was charged with the loss after allowing four runs (one earned) on four hits in six innings. He fanned a career-high nine batters and walked two. Seniors Drew Talley and Cam Tullar then each pitched one-third of an inning before sophomore Jackson Fristoe pitched the final 1 1⁄3 innings.
Ole Miss junior pitcher Dylan DeLucia (3-0) pitched a complete game and allowed two runs on five hits and struck out a career-high eight batters.
In the bottom of the first inning, senior Justin Bench hit a leadoff single through the left side. After a flyout and strikeout, Bench advanced to second on a wild pitch. Sophomore Kemp Alderman then reached on a fielding error to put runners on the corners before Graham followed with a three-run home run to right field to give the Rebels a 3-0 lead.
The score remained the same until the fifth inning. In the top half, Cumbest hit a solo home run to left field, but Ole Miss responded with a solo home run by Dunhurst in the bottom half to make it a 4-1 ballgame.
Clark narrowed the gap two runs in the top of the seventh inning with a home run to right field, which made it 4-2, but that’s as close as the Bulldogs would get.
The series continues Friday at 6:30 p.m. CT on SEC Network+.