OXFORD, Miss. – The Rebels looked to pull off a ninth-inning rally for the second straight weekend on Saturday, but only got one run home and left a man stranded on second as No. 16 Ole Miss (31-14, 11-10 SEC) fell to No. 24 Kentucky (26-17, 9-12 SEC) by a score of 5-4 in the series finale.
Stuart Turner opened the home half of the ninth with a single through the right side before a pinch-hit double to right from Holt Perdzock put two men in scoring position with one out. Sikes Orvis then drove in a run on a sac fly to the wall in left center to cut the lead to 5-4 with Perdzock on second.
Ole Miss couldn’t complete the rally, however, as Kentucky closer Trevor Gott got a strikeout with the tying run on second to end the game and pick up his 10th save of the season.
Matt Denny (1-1) took the loss in relief for the Rebels, putting two men on to start the eighth inning before leaving the game. Denny allowed two unearned runs on one hit and took the loss after the two runners put on base came home to score and put Kentucky on top 5-3.
Corey Littrell (5-3) picked up the win for the Wildcats, working 8.0 innings and allowing three runs on eight hits with a walk and six strikeouts.
“It was just a disappointing day in a lot of phases,” Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said. “We weren’t good enough to win the game. When you look back at the weekend, we had two one-run losses. Both were games that we had leads in the seventh or the eighth inning and we couldn’t hold on. We’ve looked good all year long in the bullpen and we didn’t today. Offensively, we looked like we were going to get to (Corey) Littrell early. We looked terrific right out of the gates then kind of hit a lull. He showed why he’s so good.”
Ole Miss scored first, bring a run home in the opening frame when Stuart Turner hit a sac fly to score Tanner Mathis. Mathis and Austin Anderson both singled to open the inning before Turner came up with the fly ball to put the Rebels on top 1-0.
Kentucky tied the game in the second with an RBI single from Max Kuhn that scored Zac Zellers from second. Zellers was hit by a pitch to open the inning and stole second to get into scoring position for the Kuhn hit.
The Wildcats took a 2-1 lead in the fourth when A.J. Reed came home on a sac fly to right from Zellers. Reed doubled to open the inning and took third on a groundout from J.T. Riddle. He came home on the fly ball to right, though Rebel right fielder Lance Wilson made a stellar throw to the plate that almost got the Wildcat first baseman.
Ole Miss moved back on top in the fifth with a two-out rally as Mathis came up with a single before Anderson hit a two-run shot to right field to give the Rebels the 3-2 lead. It was the second home run of the season for Anderson.
Kentucky again answered with a solo shot to open the seventh from Greg Fettes to tie the game at three.
Then the Wildcats took the lead in the eighth, capitalizing on poor defense by the Rebels to push two unearned runs across the plate. A single started things off before a throwing error on a sac bunt back to the mound from Riddle put two men on with no outs. Ole Miss would then turn to the bullpen for right-hander Tanner Bailey to relieve Denny who had come in with two outs in the seventh to get the Rebels out of a jam.
Kentucky’s Zellers then lay down another sac bunt in the next at bat and a second consecutive throwing error by a Rebel pitcher – this one to third to get the lead runner – allowed leadoff hitter Reed to score from second and put Riddle and Zellers in scoring position. Ole Miss would then intentionally walk Fettes to load the bases before Max Kuhn hit a chop, infield-single over a drawn in infield to bring Riddle home from third and give the Wildcats the two-run lead.
Bailey struck out the next two batters and the Rebels turned to the bullpen for left-hander Jeremy Massie to face the top of the Kentucky order. Massie got the Rebels out of the inning and retired all four batters faced in his 1.1 innings of work to allow Ole Miss the chance to rally in the ninth.
The Rebels were able to get the one run and two hits off Gott, but the Kentucky closer kept Ole Miss from completing the rally as the Wildcats picked up the one-run victory.
Ole Miss will return to action on Wednesday night, hosting Saint Louis at 6:30 p.m. before hitting the road to take on Auburn in a three-game series next weekend.