Top-ranked Tigers rough up Rebels and spoil Elliott’s return

Published 8:22 pm Saturday, April 22, 2023

OXFORD — Ole Miss got its ace back, but it wasn’t exactly the triumphant return they’d hoped for.

Dylan Crews homered twice in the first two innings and finished with six RBIs, Cade Beloso also went deep, and No. 1 LSU took care of Ole Miss 8-4 in game two of their weekend series on Saturday.

The Tigers spoiled the return of Ole Miss pitcher Hunter Elliott. The hero of last year’s national championship run missed two months because of a sprained elbow ligament, and gave up five runs in an inning and change.

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Crews hit a two-run home run off of Elliott in the first inning. Elliott then gave up a single and two walks in the second to load the bases and was pulled. Two batters later, Crews hit a grand slam off of reliever Mason Nichols to put the Tigers ahead 6-0.

Elliott, who last pitched in the season opener against Delaware on Feb. 17, threw 49 pitches Saturday.

“Obviously expecting better,” Elliott said. “Walked too many people. Threw too many pitches. Was on a pitch count and reached it way sooner than I would’ve liked to. Just wasn’t good enough.”

Crews, who entered the weekend leading the country with a .491 batting average, hit his 10th and 11th home runs of the season. The six RBIs were a career high.

“Dylan is a special player, and he never lets the situation get too big,” LSU coach Jay Johnson said. “He executes his plan, and he’s the best player on the planet. He’s just super committed to what he knows he needs to do. He’s a special talent, but the talent comes out like that because he’s so consistent in how he approaches the game.”

Beloso’s solo home run in the fifth inning made it 7-0. Ole Miss finally got on the board in the sixth with Kemp Alderman’s three-run home run, but the Tigers got the run back in the seventh with an RBI single by Hayden Travinski.

While Ole Miss’ ace struggled, LSU’s Ty Floyd cruised. He pitched into the ninth inning, leaving after striking out Alderman for the first out. It was the last of Floyd’s eight strikeouts. He allowed five hits and only one walk.

“Ty just was so sharp and that allowed him to extend, just a phenomenal effort,” LSU coach Jay Johnson said. “He always prepares well, but the last couple weeks we really made some strides and the pitch execution was as good as you could do it today.”

Ole Miss (21-18, 3-14 Southeastern Conference) has lost six consecutive conference series. It’ll try to avoid a sweep against LSU (31-7, 11-5) when the teams play game three Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

“You gotta play well in all three phases or you don’t win in our league,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said.