Ole Miss baseball lost its second-straight non-conference game and eighth of the season on Wednesday night as the Rebels fell to Southern Miss in Hattiesburg 5-3.
The Rebel bats were silenced as the Golden Eagles sent 7 different arms to the hill in the contest. The win was credited to J.C. Keys of USM who went 2.2 innings and struck out six of the men he faced. The Rebels’ loss also snapped a five-game winning streak over the Golden Eagles dating back to 2017.
Ole Miss mustered a mere 5 hits but left 9 men on base, a stat that represents ample opportunity to have reversed their fortunes in the contest. Two of these 5 hits came from Rebel shortstop Grae Kessinger who has now reached base in 34-straight games. Tyler Keenan and Thomas Dillard, the three and four-hole hitters for the Rebels, went a combined 0-for-8 and left three men on base themselves.
Ole Miss starting pitcher Zack Phillips went four complete innings, allowing 3 runs, two of which came via solo home runs. Southern Miss hit 3 home runs on the night, two from right fielder Matt Wallner, who also robbed Cole Zabowski of a home run in the second inning.
The Rebels trailed 3-1 heading into the seventh before pushing across two in the frame to tie the score, leaving one man on base. The Rebels then brought in Max Cioffi to take over on the hill, who gave up back-to-back base hits and a run without recording an out. Although USM would go on to push across another run in the eighth, the fate of the game was decided in the seventh, giving Cioffi credit for the loss.
In total, the Rebels sent six men to the hill, but managed to stay away from throwing crucial relievers like Austin Miller and Parker Caracci. Although Tyler Myers threw 27 pitches on Wednesday, reason would suggest that he would be available out of the bullpen at some point this weekend in Baton Rouge if needed.
Speaking of Baton Rouge, the home of the LSU Tigers has served as a house of horrors for Ole Miss baseball for the last few decades. The Rebels have not won a series at LSU since 1982 and find themselves in need of one to keep reasonable hopes of hosting a regional alive.
The Rebels and Tigers enter this weekend tied at 13-8 in SEC play, and both have subpar non-conference losses, making this series pivotal for both teams’ hopes of hosting. Whichever team loses this series isn’t entirely out of hope of being a regional host, but the picture will certainly look bleak.
The Rebels are coming off of a home series sweep of then-top-10 Texas A&M while the Tigers are fresh off a series win over the basement-dwelling Crimson Tide of Alabama.
The series this weekend between Ole Miss and LSU will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday, followed by 6:30 and 2:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.