Ole Miss take series finale from rival MSU

Published 8:37 am Monday, April 4, 2016

STARKVILLE — Ole Miss left Starkville still looking for its first Southeastern Conference series victory, but at least made sure Mississippi State is also still seeking its first weekend sweep.

Catcher Henri Lartigue went 3-for-5 with a home run and a career-high three RBIs as Ole Miss beat Mississippi State 8-5 Sunday to salvage the finale of their three-game series at Dudy Noble Field.

Mississippi State (20-8-1, 6-3 SEC) won the first two games of the series. Just as it had done in its previous two SEC series, however, it lost the third game. The Bulldogs also missed a chance to earn their first sweep of archrival Ole Miss (21-7, 3-6) since 2003.

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Ole Miss snapped a five-game losing streak.

Mississippi State remained in first place in the SEC West, thanks to its series victory over the Rebels and Florida’s three-game sweep of Texas A&M.

The Bulldogs will face Florida — the top-ranked team in the country in both major polls — next weekend in Gainesville. That looming showdown had MSU coach John Cohen cautious about enjoying his team’s success so far.

“You’ve got to get them ready for the midweek, and then after that you’re going to go play the number one team in the country which just swept an unbelieveable A&M club. There is no first place until the end of the year,” Cohen said.

Ole Miss scored just three runs in the first two games of the series, but surpassed that total in the fifth inning Sunday.

With one out and runners on second and third, Colby Bortles singled to left field to bring in Ryan Olenek and Tate Blackman and give the Rebels a 4-2 lead.

The Rebels added another run in the sixth. Errol Robinson doubled down the left field line before moving to third on a ball in the dirt. With one out and Robinson 90 feet away from home, the Bulldogs brought their infield in to try and prevent another run from scoring. However, Cameron Dishon hit a chopper to the shortstop and Robinson slid under the tag at home to increase the margin to 5-2.

“We didn’t get off to a great start, and certainly we didn’t pound the strike zone like we wanted to,” Cohen said. “We went three straight games without walking anybody, and in the course of this one we hit some and walked three, and those were costly. That, plus we had some defensive gaffes that really allowed them to get some things going.”

Lartigue homered in the second inning and just missed another in the eighth, settling instead for a ground-rule double. He later scored on an infield single by Robinson.

Nathaniel Lowe and Gavin Collins homered in the eighth inning as Mississippi State cut it to 6-5, but Ole Miss tacked on two insurance runs in the ninth to put the game away.

Mississippi State got its leadoff runner on in the bottom of the ninth, but Will Stokes retired the next three batters in order.

Stokes earned his third save of the season. Wyatt Short (2-1), who allowed three runs on seven hits in four innings of relief, picked up the win.

Bortles finished 2-for-4 with three RBIs for the Rebels, while Robinson was 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. Olenek also scored two runs.

Lowe, Collins and Jake Mangum all had two hits apiece for State. Collins drove in two runs and scored twice.

Once again, poor starting pitching on Sunday did in the Bulldogs. After Dakota Hudson and Austin Sexton both pitched complete games in the first two games of the series, Sunday starter Daniel Brown failed to make it out of the second inning.

Brown allowed two runs on three hits and walked a batter. He was pulled after Lartigue led off the second inning with his home run to left field and Michael Fitzimmons followed that with a single to center.

LSU 10, Auburn 5

Jordan Romero hit a three-run home run and reliever Parker Bugg held Auburn (13-15, 2-7 SEC) scoreless over the last 3 2/3 innings as LSU (18-9, 4-5) won its first conference series of the season.

Romero finished the three-game series with two doubles, two homers and seven RBIs. His home run Sunday came with two outs in the top of the seventh inning and LSU clinging to a 6-5 lead.

Florida 10, Texas A&M 7

No. 3 Florida (27-3, 7-2 SEC) scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to take the lead for good and went on to beat No. 1 Texas A&M (22-6, 4-5) in a showdown between two of the top teams in the country.

Florida swept the three-game series and has won 27 consecutive games at home. It will host SEC West leader Mississippi State in a three-game set next weekend.