No. 11 Ole Miss finds its offense and defeats No. 5 Mississippi State 8-5
STARKVILLE – It was almost déjà vu all over again for Ole Miss in its final game Sunday afternoon against Mississippi State, but thanks to some great hitting from Henri Lartigue and Colby Bortles, as well as some solid pitching from the relievers, the Rebels took the final game of the series from the Bulldogs.
The bats definitely provided a spark for No. 11 Ole Miss (21-7, 3-6 Southeastern Conference) as the Rebels defeated fifth-ranked Mississippi State, 8-5. Though the Rebels lost the series, 2-1, to their in-state rival, they snapped a five-game losing streak with the win today.
Lartigue was impressive at the plate, as the catcher went 3 for 5 on the day with a career-high three RBI’s and two runs, while third baseman Bortles knocked in three runs for the Rebels. Lartigue was a triple short of the cycle.
Errol Robinson went 2-for-4 with one RBI and one run, and Tate Blackman had a hit to reach base for the 14th straight game.
It was a much-needed turnaround for Lartigue and his teammates as they totaled 10 hits in the series finale after struggling offensively in the previous five games.
Baseball is a very mental game, so you’ve got to flush out whatever happens if it’s negative. You have guys in the dugout who are keeping us positive and coaches that are keeping us positive. We just have to remember that it’s about the process, not about the outcome.
Ole Miss catcher Henri Lartigue
Ole Miss bullpen continues outstanding work
The win over a streaking Mississippi State team wasn’t easy as the Bulldogs (20-8-1, 6-3) rallied late after being down 6-2. State started to close the gap and wake up the crowd in bottom of the eighth with a home run by Nathaniel Lowe which was followed by a Gavin Collins homer to left field with Reid Humphreys on base.
The lead was down to one when Bianco took out Wyatt Short (2-1) after four innings and put in David Parkinson. Sophomore RHP Will Stokes pitched the final inning and ended the game by striking out Lowe.
Short threw 44 pitches, giving up seven hits. Parkinson and Stokes each pitched one inning apiece, combining for 28 total pitches. Short earned the victory after tossing four innings. Parkinson retired all three batters he faced in relief, while Will Stokes (3) finished things out on the mound for his third save of the season.
Head coach Mike Bianco was proud of his bullpen.
David has been terrific for us all year long. He and Stokes, a lot of times, kind of fall under the radar. The bullpen has just been outstanding, especially David, Feigl, Stokes and guys that don’t get some of the recognition. Short gets a ton of it, which he is very deserving of. But that’s one of the reasons that allows you to bring Wyatt in, because you’ve got guys on the backend that can really finish for you.
Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco
Colby Bortles’ single to right center field in the top of the first inning allowed Ryan Olenek to score. Then in the top of the second, Lartigue recorded his second home run of the season with this one heading over the left field fence.
Rebels hold off State’s attempt at a comeback
But Mississippi State quickly responded in the bottom half of the inning when Elih Marrero doubled to left center field, which allowed Cody Brown and Collins to score and tie the game, two-all. After those two scored runs, Bianco went to the mound to talk with starting pitcher Sean Johnson, who recorded one strikeout in three innings of work.
Johnson finished with 61 pitches and a 2.42 ERA against the Bulldogs.
“I thought his stuff was better,” Bianco said of Johnson’s performance Sunday. “His velocity was up to 91 and most of his fastballs reached up in the upper 80s and low 90s. The command wasn’t as strong today, especially with his fast ball. His slider enabled him to get through about three innings or so.
“But it was going to be tough for whoever ran out there today.”
Short entered the game in the bottom of the fourth and kept Mississippi State scoreless and almost hitless up until the eighth inning.
Rebels host Southern Miss on Tuesday (6:30 p.m. CST).
Courtney is from Memphis and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Memphis in May of 2014. He began his journalism career covering the Memphis Tigers Men’s basketball team, which landed him an intern position on 730 Yahoo Sports Radio and a position with Rivals.com. A freelance writer for the Associated Press, Courtney is also a member of The Rebel Walk team and reports regularly on Ole Miss football and basketball. Courtney, the father of a six-year old girl named Soniyah, prefers to cover NCAA basketball and football, but is happy to report on any other sport that comes his way.