OXFORD, Miss. (WCBI/Ole Miss Athletics) — In almost a repeat of the series opener, the Rebels and Commodores found themselves in a tight contest defined by pitchers escaping jams. But again the visiting team claimed the win as No. 16 Ole Miss (23-8, 4-7 SEC) fell to No. 2 Vanderbilt (28-4, 10-1 SEC) by a score of 2-1 on Saturday.
With the loss, the Rebels dropped the series to the Commodores and will look to salvage the weekend series with game three at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. The series loss marks only the fifth time in the last 11 seasons that Ole Miss has dropped a home series to a top-10 team.
Mike Mayers (2-4) took another tough loss as he allowed two runs, but only one earned, in 4.2 innings with six walks and five strikeouts as the right-hander repeatedly worked out of jams.
Tyler Beede (8-0) picked up the win as he allowed only one run on four hits with five walks and six strikeouts. The Vanderbilt right-hander also worked out of repeated jams after the Rebels got men in scoring position three times through the first five innings with less than two outs.
Brian Miller then picked up his 10th save of the season as he entered the game with one out in the ninth and retired the final two batters of the game.
“It was a tough day for us offensively,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “Early in the game, against a very good pitcher, we looked good offensively. We looked like we were locked in. We got a lot of good swings off, but we didn’t have much to show for it. We had few opportunities with runners in scoring position, but not many. Once again, we missed the big hit, all but Sikes Orvis’ hit. That’s the thing that we haven’t been getting. We you get opportunities you have to make the most of them.
We had good pitching and defense. We were solid today. Chris (Ellis) pitched better today than he has pitched. Mike (Mayers) puts a lot on himself. He certainly wasn’t his best today, but he gave us an opportunity to win. (Aaron) Greenwood was tremendous at the end.”
Ole Miss got its first scoring opportunity in the second inning, putting runners at the corners with back-to-back singles from Andrew Mistone and Sikes Orvis with one out on the board. Vanderbilt would turn a double play in the next at bat to escape the inning, however.
The Commodores then pushed a run home in the top half of the third to take the lead. Back-to-back singles to opened things up before Connor Harrell delivered an RBI single to left to drive in Tony Kemp for the 1-0 lead.
The Rebels again got a man into scoring position in the fourth inning when Austin Anderson drew a walk and took second on a wild pitch, but Vanderbilt retired the next two batters yet again to retain the lead.
A second run crossed the plate for Vanderbilt in the fifth inning as the Commodores took advantage of a fielding error on a single to center to take an extra base and help set up a score. Conrad Gregor opened things up with the single to right and the fielding error allowed him to take second. A groundout to second put him on third before Mike Yastrzemski brought him home with another single to right before the Rebels could get out of the inning and Vanderbilt led 2-0.
Ole Miss got on the board in the sixth inning when Anderson scored on a single to right from Sikes Orvis. Anderson walked to open the inning and moved to second on a groundout to first from Stuart Turner. A wild pitch moved the Rebel junior to third and Orvis drove him home with the two-out single to cut the lead to 2-1.
Neither team would score again as both bullpens locked things down after relieving the starters.
Chris Ellis and Aaron Greenwood combined for 5.1 scoreless innings and held Vanderbilt to four hits with five strikeouts down the stretch, while Vanderbilt’s Carson Fulmer, Jared Miller and Brian Miller allowed one hit with four strikeouts and a walk across the final 3.0 innings.