HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- – No. 13 Ole Miss had won its last five meetings with Southern Miss, but the Rebels' streak in the in-state rivalry ended there as they left Pete Taylor Park with a 5-3 defeat.
Junior shortstop Grae Kessinger paced the Rebels at the plate with a 2-for-5 night with a run scored and an RBI, while fellow Oxonian Houston Roth turned in the Rebels' best outing on the mound, going two scoreless innings with just one baserunner allowed. However, Ole Miss came up just short in the back-and-forth affair.
Starter Zack Phillips opened his outing with a one-two-three first inning. The junior left-hander finished after four innings with three runs allowed on five hits with no walks and three strikeouts.
Ole Miss was just inches away from taking the lead in the top of the second. After a leadoff walk by Thomas Dillard, Cole Zabowski got ahold of one, but his home run was robbed by Southern Miss right fielder Matt Wallner. Then, in the bottom half, Wallner himself broke the tie with a solo home run to left field.
In the third, Ryan Olenek made his way aboard with a single to center, followed by a base hit to left off the bat of Grae Kessinger, extending his reached-base streak to 34 games. However, soon after, Olenek was caught stealing, and Tyler Keenan went down swinging to end the Rebel threat.
Ole Miss tied it back up in the fourth. Zabowski's one-out base hit started it, and Kevin Graham kept it going with a two-out walk, setting up for an RBI single by Anthony Servideo, knotting the game at one. However, Southern Miss quickly regained the lead in the bottom half on another solo home run, this one by Bryant Bowen. The Golden Eagles tacked on one more when Wallner was driven home on a bloop double to left by Hunter LeBlanc.
Houston Roth took over for Phillips in the fifth. He struck out the first batter he faced in the inning and allowed just one single in the scoreless inning. He returned in the sixth and worked a one-two-three frame to set up for a key inning by the Rebel bats.
Josh Hall sparked the rally with a leadoff walk then swiped second base, putting him in position to score easily on a line drive double to left center by Kessinger. Two pitches later, Kessinger came home when Keenan lifted a ball into the left-center gap. The pop fly was dropped by the Southern Miss left fielder, allowing the Rebels to tie it up.
Max Cioffi relieved Roth in the bottom half of the seventh, and the Golden Eagles quickly strung together a pair of base hits to regain the lead, 4-3. Tyler Myers then checked in out of the bullpen and escaped the inning without further damage.
The Golden Eagles added to the lead on a second solo home run by Wallner in the eighth. Jordan Fowler and Taylor Broadway each made appearances to limit the damage in the inning, but it proved to be enough for the home team to take the 5-3 victory.