Mississippi State completes three-game sweep of Rebels

Posted on Apr 3 2017 - 8:01am by Nathan Bailey

This weekend, the Ole Miss baseball team took on Mississippi State in a three-game weekend series. The Rebels were swept by the unranked Bulldogs as the Rebels’ losing ways continue. Over the past eight games, Ole Miss has only managed two wins, one of which came in extra innings against the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

James McArthur

Pitcher James McArthur waits for a sign from the catcher during Ole Miss’ game against Texas Tech earlier this season. McArthur pitched six scoreless innings, including five strikeouts against Mississippi State on Thursday. (Photo by: Cameron Brooks)

The Rebels started the home series last Thursday against the Bulldogs and looked solid throughout the early innings. Pitching was solid and did not concede a run until the seventh inning. Starter James McArthur pitched six scoreless innings and had five strikeouts.

Ole Miss’ offense was firing on all cylinders early in the game; taking an early lead and holding it until head coach Mike Bianco’s seventh inning pitching change. After the Bulldogs tied the score at three, the Rebels failed to convert on any further opportunities. Jake Mangum scored for the Bulldogs on a passed ball in the ninth inning to give State the lead.

The Rebels loaded the bases for Colby Bortles in the bottom of the ninth, but the senior slugger struck out swinging. The game ended 4-3.

On Friday night, the Rebels failed to improve. Bianco’s men came alive out of the gate, forcing an early pitching change that removed Bulldog starter Peyton Plumlee after just two outs in the first inning.

The Rebels’ offense, as usual, sputtered out soon after. Nick Fortes still managed a good outing as he led Ole Miss on both sides of the ball. Fortes went three for four and had two RBIs on the night. The team was presented with many opportunities to score more runs, but failed to convert on nearly all of them. They lost the second game of the series 5-3.

The final game of the series was a nail biter played Saturday night. Neither team could pull out in front and solidify a lead. The Rebels scored early, but Bianco’s team would only manage four hits throughout the entire affair.

Eventually, the game would come down to the bottom of the ninth inning after the Rebels’ relief pitching kept the score close. Defense was not a struggle on Saturday, but offensive struggles were highlighted yet again. The team had the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth and could not convert on the golden opportunity. The Rebels fell 2-1 to the Bulldogs as State completed its sweep.

Overall, it’s hard to see how Bianco could have found many positives from the past weekend. His players continued to struggle at the plate, and even though his defense was not terrible, his pitchers and fielders could not contain the Bulldog’s hitters. After the sweep, Ole Miss’ overall record dropped to 16-12 and 3-6 in the SEC.