Mitch Slauter smashed a line drive over the wall in left for a two-run home run in the sixth inning, but that wouldn’t be enough for Mississippi State’s winning streak to continue as they dropped a 6-2 decision on Saturday.
Kendall Graveman (3-3) gave the Bulldogs (26-17, 9-11) five solid innings of work sandwiched between two innings he’d rather forget.
The Rebels (28-15, 10-10) jumped on Graveman early with a two-run home run off the bat of Matt Snyder to take the early 2-0 lead.
“The great thing about Kendall and our pitching staff, even though we didn’t defend it as well as we should have, he just kept on coming back and making great pitches,” said MSU head baseball coach John Cohen.
The game cruised along for the next four innings with neither team threatening. However, in the sixth, Slauter drew the Bulldogs even after Adam Frazier opened the inning with a leadoff walk. His home run was the third of the season for the Bulldog catcher.
“It happens,” said Slauter who went 1-for-4 with two RBI for the afternoon. “I’m not the first and I won’t be the last to hit one out of here.”
The tie game was short lived for the Bulldogs as the Rebels quickly answered with a pair of runs in the top of seventh courtesy of MSU miscues.
Will Allen opened the inning with a double followed by a one-out throwing error by State third baseman Daryl Norris that allowed Auston Bousfield to reach base. The next batter to the plate, Austin Anderson, belted a baseball into right scoring a run. An addition run crossed the plate when Norris misplayed a ball thrown in from right field giving Ole Miss the 4-2 advantage.
“There were about five plays that we did not make and you’re not going to win any games in our league when you make the five blunders that we made (Saturday),” Cohen said. “We gave them a lot of runs (Saturday) and you just can’t do that defensively in this league.”
To add injury to insult, the Rebels scored a pair in the ninth and C.T. Bradford re-aggravated his separated shoulder when he collided with Brent Brownlee on a hustle play in right-center field that sent both players to the turf in pain.
“I remember one time playing for coach (Ron) Polk, (and) he said it perfectly,” said Cohen. “If everybody is running full speed for a ball, there is an occasion that’s unavoidable because you can’t call for a ball unless you know you can make the play.”
The severity of Bradford’s injury isn’t clear at this time, but Cohen remains hopeful the news will be better than things appeared on the field.
State managed just a pair of runs on five hits off the Rebel duo of Mike Mayers (4-3) and R.J. Hively, while Ole Miss touched Bulldog pitching for six runs (three earned) on 10 hits.
The loss force the ever important rubber game on Sunday with a first pitch slated for 1:35 p.m. and will be televised on CSS.