MSU drops opener; Ole Miss rolls over Stetson

Published 1:14 am Saturday, February 15, 2014

The beginning of the most anticipated season in years for Mississippi State started with a fizzle.

Western Carolina rode a two-run first inning and a dominant pitching performance by Jeremy Null to a 3-2 season-opening victory over last year’s NCAA runners-up Friday.

Null allowed three hits and struck out 12 in eight innings for Western Carolina, which was a last-minute replacement opponent for Mississippi State. The Bulldogs were originally scheduled to play Hofstra, but Hofstra was unable to travel because of a winter storm on the east coast.

Mississippi State and Western Carolina will continue their three-game series this afternoon.

The Catamounts staked Null to an early lead with RBI singles by Jacob Hoyle and Luke Gragg in the top of the first. Cody Jones added an RBI single in the seventh to make it 3-0.

Null left after eight innings, and the Bulldogs finally rallied against Western Carolina’s bullpen. Alex Detz led off the bottom of the ninth with a walk, Brett Pirtle followed with a single, and both runners scored on Wes Rea’s base hit up the middle to cut it to 3-2.

Bryan Sammons, the third WCU pitcher of the inning, got the last two outs to end the game with the tying run at third base.

Ole Miss 7, Stetson 0

Chris Ellis allowed four hits and two walks while striking out four in six shutout innings to lead Ole Miss past Stetson. Relievers Wyatt Short and Hawtin Buchanan finished the shutout.

Auston Bousfield went 3-for-3 and Sikes Orvis hit a solo home run to pace the Rebels’ offense. Ole Miss had nine hits, although only three of their seven runs were earned.