NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WCBI/Ole Miss Athletics) – It was a heartbreaking afternoon at Hawkins Field as the No. 4 Ole Miss baseball team dropped two one-run contests, both by the score of 8-7, for its second series loss of the season at No. 14 Vanderbilt.
Ole Miss ran away with an 11-3 victory in Game 1, but the Commodores came back to win two wild, back-and-forth contests in Game 2 and Game 3. The Rebels fall to 29-8 overall and 8-7 in SEC play.
Game 1 – Vanderbilt 8, Ole Miss 7
GAME 1 BOX SCORE (PDF) | GAME 1 BOX SCORE (HTML)
Both Game 1 and Game 2, scheduled for seven innings, started as pitchers duels but quickly turned into slugfests. There was no score through the first three and a half innings until Vanderbilt broke through in Game 1 with two runs in the fourth.
Ole Miss chipped back with one in the fifth off a Tyler Keenan RBI double and another in the sixth on a Ryan Olenek home run that extended his hitting streak to 14 games—a streak that reached 15 by day’s end.
The Commodores appeared to regain control with three more runs in the bottom half of the sixth, but Ole Miss fought back in the top of the seventh. Cole Zabowski and Will Golsan started the rally with back-to-back singles. Eventually, Olenek came through with an infield single to plate the go-ahead run. Vandy came back in the bottom half to tie it and send the game to extra innings.
Ole Miss pushed one across in the eighth when a Golsan sacrifice fly sent home Thomas Dillard, who opened the inning with a leadoff double. However, the Commodores came right back with two runs in the bottom of the eighth, including the winning run on a wild pitch.
Ole Miss struck first in Game 2 after a leadoff walk by Grae Kessinger and a double by Olenek to stretch his streak to 15 games. Kessinger scored on a Dillard groundout to give the Rebels an early lead.
Starter James McArthur was outstanding early, striking out five of the first six batters he faced. In the third, an inside breaking ball caught the leg of a Vanderbilt batter to start a two-run inning for the home team. The Commodores tacked on three more runs in the fourth, forcing the Rebels to come back once again.
Ole Miss did just that, tying the game with a four-run fifth, highlighted by a monstrous solo home run for Keenan, an RBI single by Olenek and a two-RBI double for Nick Fortes. Immediately after Fortes’ double, Vanderbilt used a hidden ball trick to help end the inning.
With the score tied at five, Will Ethridge struck out the side in the fifth, setting up for the Rebels’ go-ahead inning. After a Golsan single and a walk by Keenan to start the inning, Cooper Johnson came through with an RBI single in a pinch-hitting situation. Kessinger then delivered an RBI single of his own to give Ole Miss a two-run cushion, 7-5.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite enough, as the home team came through with a big inning of its own to reclaim the lead 8-7. At the end of a long weekend and a long afternoon of baseball, the Rebels ran short of comeback magic and dropped another one-run heartbreaker.
After eight straight games away from home, the Rebels return to Swayze Field for a Wednesday matchup with Arkansas State at 6:30 p.m. CT.
– Of the Rebels’ eight defeats this season, seven have come by two runs or fewer.
– Sunday marked the fifth doubleheader of the season for Ole Miss.
– Ole Miss has tallied double-figure hits in eight of the last nine games.
– Ryan Olenek extended his hit streak to 15 games, tying Thomas Dillard for the longest streak of the season. He’s reached base successfully in 17 straight contests.
– Olenek continued his incredible tear, going 4-for-7 today with 2 RBI, a run scored, a double and a home run.
– Tyler Keenan stayed hot for the Rebels, going 2-for-4 today with two runs scored, two RBI, a double and a home run.
– Will Golsan turned in a strong weekend at the plate, going 5-for-9 with four runs scored and two RBI in Nashville.
– James McArthur tallied a season-high eight strikeouts in the second game of the doubleheader.