Ole Miss takes first series from Mississippi State since 2015

Published 7:48 pm Sunday, April 14, 2024

OXFORD — The Ole Miss Rebels had a wild time Saturday night, but they saved the real party for Sunday afternoon.

Ethan Lege hit two home runs, Will Furniss added a three-run shot, and the Rebels run-ruled Mississippi State 14-2 on Sunday.

Ole Miss (20-16, 5-10, Southeastern Conference) won a series against Mississippi State (22-14, 7-8) for the first time since 2015, as well as its first Southeastern Conference series of the season.

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The Rebels, who entered the weekend on a seven-game losing streak, took two out of three games from the Bulldogs. They added Sunday’s victory to a wild 10-9, 12-inning walk-off win on Saturday.

“Everybody wants it — on both sides. There’s a lot of emotion, as you can see in all the games that we compete. It doesn’t matter what we play them in, everybody wants to win. There’s an extra something on the line besides a conference series or a conference win,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “It’s a head-scratcher why we’ve struggled so much because we both have played pretty well over the last eight or nine years. But certainly we played pretty good today.”

Lege’s two-run homer in the bottom of the first inning gave Ole Miss an early lead, and it never trailed. The Rebels scored in every inning except the fourth. They scored three runs in the sixth inning and six in the seventh to close it out.

Furniss’ three-run home run ended the game in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Ole Miss finished with 16 hits. The first six batters in the lineup all had multiple hits, as did No. 8 hitter Eli Berch.
Ethan Groff finished 2-for-5 with three RBIs, Andrew Fischer had three hits and scored four runs, and Furniss was 3-for-4 with four RBIs.

Lege was 2-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored.

It was Ole Miss’ biggest win over its in-state rival since 1960, and the most runs it has scored against the Bulldogs since 2010.

“The challenge for them today was, you want to enjoy the wins. That’s why we do it. But you put it in the past or you’re going to live in the past. Use it to propel you today. Galvanize your belief in one another, and certainly they took that and ran with it,” Bianco said.

The Rebels also got an excellent pitching performance from Mason Nichols. He went 6 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on four hits, with no walks. He struck out four batters.

Bianco said Nichols was battling a sinus infection and some pregame stiffness in his shoulder. The junior right-hander fought through it, however, to put together the longest outing of his career. Normally a reliever, Nichols made his first start after 55 appearances out of the bullpen over the past three seasons.

“Honestly, physically I didn’t feel great. I had to grit through it a little bit. But I felt great with the result. It took some real resolve to get through that lineup,” Nichols said. “We earned giving it to them. It’s been six years, I think, so we earned that.”

Mississippi State ran through six pitchers, five of whom gave up at least one run, after also using six pitchers in Saturday’s game.

Although Sunday was a blowout, five of the Bulldogs’ eight SEC losses have been by one run.

“What happens is, when you win a walk-off like that it gives the other team a lot of momentum and I think you tip your hat to Ole Miss. They took that momentum and played with it today,” Mississippi State coach Chris Lemonis said. “Emptying the bullpens last night had a big difference on today. We’ve got to finish games out.”