OXFORD, Miss. - Junior right-hander Bobby Wahl turned in a solid performance on the mound Thursday night, allowing one run through seven innings, but a late rally proved to be the Rebels' undoing as No. 16 Ole Miss (30-13, 10-9 SEC) fell to No. 24 Kentucky (25-16, 8-11 SEC) 3-2 in the series opener.
Wahl took no decision, allowing the one run on four hits with a walk and three strikeouts in his 7.0 innings on the mound. The lone run came on a solo shot from Austin Cousino in the first inning, but the Rebels rallied to take a 2-1 lead in the seventh before Ole Miss would turn to the bullpen for Aaron Greenwood.
Greenwood (3-2) took the loss, allowing two runs on two hits with a walk to start the eighth inning. He did not record an out before leaving the game with the bases loaded. The Wildcats would go on to push two runs home to take the 3-2 lead on the Rebels and pick up the win.
Kentucky reliever Chandler Shepherd (3-0) picked up the win in relief for the Wildcats, working 2.1 innings scoreless innings in relief of Reed. He allowed three hits and a walk, while striking out two batters in his time on the mound.
"It was not a good night for us; I didn't think we played very well," said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. "You have to credit (A.J.) Reed, we just couldn't get to his fastball. We looked different than we have looked the last couple weeks where we had gotten good swings, but we were able to scratch a couple runs across in the bottom of the seventh. When you don't play well and you're in a position to win, obviously it is disappointing when you don't and you're not able to close it out. That's uncharacteristic of us, normally we can finish it in the bullpen but we couldn't tonight."
Kentucky drew first blood with the Cousino home run in the opening frame, sending the one-out shot into the bullpen in left field to put the Wildcats on the board.
Both pitchers settled in from there and the defense for both teams worked out of jams when necessary before the Rebels would put together a rally in the seventh to take the lead.
Andrew Mistone started things off with a ground ball to third, but a throwing error allowed him to reach safely and move to second to start the inning. A sac bunt from Preston Overbey took him to third before he would come home on a sac fly to center field from Christian Helsel to tie the game at one.
Will Allen then came up with a two-out single through the left side and was replaced on the base path by freshman Cameron Dishon, who promptly stole second. A walk of pinch hitter Austin Knight kept the inning alive before Tanner Mathis would deliver an infield single deep to short, allowing Dishon to score from second as he went hard on contact and slid in ahead of the tag at the plate off a slow throw from short and the relay home.
Ole Miss held the 2-1 lead after the seventh, but it was short lived with Kentucky answering in the eighth.
The first three batters reached on a double, walk and a single before a groundout to first brought the tying run home. The Rebels intentionally walked Reed to load the bases and set up a double play ball, but another groundout to first brought the go-ahead run home before the Rebels could get out of the inning.
Ole Miss couldn't rally for a second time in the ninth as the Rebels fell in the series-opener for only the second time this season.
Ole Miss and Kentucky will return to action in game two of the weekend series at 6:30 p.m. on Friday night at Swayze Field