Ole Miss draws first blood in series with Bulldogs

Published 11:20 pm Friday, April 14, 2023

STARKVILLE — Ole Miss won a home run duel, and the first game of its pivotal Southeastern Conference series, with Mississippi State.

Kemp Alderman hit a solo home run in the eighth inning to put Ole Miss ahead for good, Jacob Gonzalez also went deep, and the Rebels beat the Bulldogs 3-2 on Friday night.

Mississippi State (20-15, 3-10 SEC) only had three hits, two of which were solo home runs. Dakota Jordan went deep in the fifth inning and Hunter Hines in the ninth. The Bulldogs’ only other hit was a two-out double by Amani Larry in the sixth inning.

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Ole Miss reliever Mitch Murrell entered the game in the seventh inning and retired the first eight batters he faced. Hines’ home run broke that string, but Murrell came back with a strikeout against Jordan to end the game.

Ole Miss starter Jack Dougherty went six innings, struck out four batters and walked one.

“That was the difference in the ballgame. You have to tip your hat to their starter and bullpen guys, but we don’t do enough offensively,” Mississippi State coach Chris Lemonis said. “Just not enough good at-bats, that were one-pitch outs. We’ve been really good offensively, I think, this year. We just didn’t have a good night tonight.”

Ole Miss (20-10, 3-10) had 12 hits, but left 10 runners on base. Gonzalez homered in the third inning, and Alderman’s 15th home run of the season — and third in as many games — in the eighth gave the Rebels a 2-1 lead.

They added an insurance run in the ninth. T.J. McCants led off with a single, stole second, and scored on Calvin Harris’ two-out single to make it 3-1.

Mississippi State pitchers Cade Smith, Colby Holcombe and K.C. Hunt combined for 10 strikeouts and only two walks. It was a great pitching performance for a staff that has struggled all season, but was ultimately wasted.

“It’s frustrating,” Lemonis said. Especially tonight, rival, big crowd. We have to do a better job tomorrow.”
The Rebels and Bulldogs will play game two of their three-game series at Dudy Noble Field Saturday at 3 p.m. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.