BATON ROUGE, La. -- The Rebels mounted a furious rally over the last two innings, but it wasn’t enough as No. 11 Ole Miss (16-7 5-3 SEC) came up short in a 6-5 loss at No. 2 LSU (20-6, 5-3 SEC) to even the series at Alex Box Stadium.
Trailing 6-2 in the top of the ninth, the Rebels put together a three-run rally to trim the lead to one, but couldn’t close the deal as the second-ranked Tigers escaped with the win.
The top of the order provided all of the offense for Ole Miss on the afternoon as Jeremy Travis went 2-for-5 with three RBI and Matt Smith went 2-for-5 with two RBI. Jordan Henry and Logan Power both scored a run each, while Henry was also 2-for-5 at the plate.
Phillip Irwin (4-1) suffered his first loss of the season as he allowed five runs on eight hits with a walk and four strikeouts in 5.1 innings of work. Nathan Baker closed out the game for the Rebels as he allowed one run on four hits with a walk and two strikeouts.
Louis Coleman (6-1) earned the win for LSU as he pitched 7.0 innings and held the Rebels to two runs on four hits with four walks and 10 strikeouts. Only one of the runs was earned.
“Coleman was just too good today,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “We gave some at bats away and needed to be more competitive early in the game. We just didn’t play cleanly enough and left too many opportunities out there today.”
LSU struck first, scoring a run in the third when Tyler Hanover crossed the plate on a single to left field from Jared Mitchell. Hanover reached on a single through the right side and then moved to second on a wild pitch. He then took third on a groundout to second from Leon Landry before scoring on the Mitchell hit. Mitchell then stole second before scoring on a single through the right side from Blake Dean to give LSU the 2-0 advantage.
The Tigers continued to add to the lead in the fifth when Ryan Schimpf came up with an RBI single to left center that drove in Dean from second. Dean doubled down the right field line with one out to spark the LSU rally.
Ole Miss got on the board in the sixth when Logan Power scored on a single to third from Matt Smith with two outs. Power walked before moving to second on a groundout from Jeremy Travis. Power then took third on a passed ball to score on the Smith hit.
The Tigers loaded the bases in the bottom of the frame before Dean came up with a 3-RBI single through the right side to push the LSU lead out to 6-1. Following a fly out to open the inning, back-to-back singles put two men on base before Ole Miss called in Nathan Baker from the bullpen. Baker got the first batter faced to pop out before walking the bases loaded and giving up the base hit to Dean. He then got a fly out to center to end the inning with the home team leading by five.
Ole Miss pushed a second run across in the eight when Jordan Henry scored on a single from Jeremy Travis, but the Rebels left the bases loaded as LSU used two pitchers out of the bullpen to halt the Ole Miss rally.
The Rebels fought back with a furious rally in the ninth that netted three runs, but couldn’t get the critical fourth run across the plate as reliever Paul Bertuccini struck out the final Rebel batter to end the game with a man on third.
A pinch-hitting David Phillips opened the ninth with a single before pinch-runner Tim Ferguson moved to second on an infield single from Henry. Power then came up with another infield single to load the bases before Travis came up with a two-RBI single to score Ferguson and Henry, while moving Power to third. Matt Smith then came up with an RBI single to score Power and move Travis to third before the Tigers got out of the inning with the strikeout.
Ole Miss and LSU will play the rubber match of the series on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Alex Box Stadium.