The Bulldogs (23-17, 7-10 SEC) erased a 4-1 deficit by scoring the next nine runs to take a 10-4 lead in the top of the eighth inning. The Rebels (22-16, 6-11 SEC) scored three runs in the bottom half of the eighth, but MSU held on to force a rubber match.
Senior Brad Cumbest led the Bulldogs with a 4-for-5 effort at the plate with three runs and an RBI, while senior Luke Hancock was 3-for-5 with a home run and junior Logan Tanner was 3-for-4 with two runs. Freshman Hunter Hines was 2-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs and sophomore Lane Forsythe was 2-for-5 with an RBI.
Ole Miss was led by senior Justin Bench with three hits, two runs and one RBI. Sophomore Jacob Gonzalez added two hits, two RBIs and two runs, while junior Peyton Chatagnier added two hits, one RBI and one run and senior Kevin Graham also finished with two hits.
Junior pitcher Preston Johnson started for MSU and allowed four runs on nine hits with eight strikeouts and three walks in five innings pitched. Freshman Pico Kohn (2-0) tossed the next two innings and allowed just one hit with three strikeouts and two walks to earn the win. Junior KC Hunt was MSU’s final pitcher of the night and allowed three runs on four hits with two strikeouts and a walk in two innings.
Freshman pitcher Hunter Elliott started for the Rebels and pitched four innings, allowing one run on four hits to go with six strikeouts and two walks. Ole Miss’ third pitcher of the night, sophomore Jack Dougherty (1-2), was charged with the loss after allowing four runs on four hits in one-third of an inning.
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning on a solo home run to right field by Hancock, but the lead was short-lived. In the bottom half, Bench, Gonzalez and senior Tim Elko hit back-to-back-to-back home runs to give Ole Miss a 3-1 lead.
Ole Miss extended its lead to 4-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning on a leadoff home run by Chatagnier.
The score remained the same until the sixth inning when MSU drew within one run. Cumbest led off with a double to left field and advanced to third on a groundout. Graduate student Jess Davis followed with a ground-rule double to score him before graduate student RJ Yeager’s RBI single to left-center field scored Davis and made it 4-3.
In the top of the seventh inning, Tanner hit a leadoff single and Hines followed with a two-run home run to right field. After that, Cumbest singled through the left side, and sophomore Kellum Clark homered to right field to give the Bulldogs a 7-4 lead.
MSU added three insurance runs in the top of the eighth inning to increase its lead to 10-4. Tanner was hit by a pitch to begin things before Hines singled through the right side to put runners on the corners. Cumbest brought Tanner home with a double to left field before Hines scored on a groundout. MSU’s final run came on Forsythe’s double to left-center.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, senior Hayden Leatherwood was called upon to pinch hit with one out and reached first after being hit by a pitch. He advanced to second on a wild pitch before Bench singled through the right side to put runners on the corners. Gonzalez then hit an RBI single before sophomore Kemp Alderman hit a two-RBI double to left field to cut MSU’s lead to three at 10-7.
The Rebels brought the tying run to the plate with two outs in the ninth after TJ McCants drew a walk and Leatherwood singled through the left side, but Bench’s fielder’s choice ended the game.
The Bulldogs and Rebels will play Saturday’s rubber match at 3:30 p.m. CT on ESPN2.