LONG BEACH, Calif. -- The Ole Miss baseball team didn't get the result they wanted in Game 1 against Long Beach State, but after their first taste of defeat in the 2018 season, the Rebels rebounded in a big way in Game 2.
The Dirtbags' small ball gave Ole Miss trouble in a 4-3 Game 1 defeat, but the Rebels flipped the script in Game 2, grabbing a 4-3 win of their own and a split of a rain-induced doubleheader.
Long Beach State's West Coast small ball caused problems for the Rebels in Game 1 as a wild third inning set the tone in their first defeat of the 2018 season.
The Dirtbags totaled five stolen bases in that third frame and scored their first run after a rundown between third base and home plate. The Rebels had LBSU's Jarren Duran caught dead to rights before he collided with third baseman Tim Elko in the base path, leading to an interference call on Elko and a run for the Dirtbags.
A sacrifice fly moments later brought home the second run of the inning for the Dirtbags. The following inning, Duran knocked home Joey Sanchez for the game's second run.
Ole Miss battled back in the third inning. Cooper Johnson took a pitch on his hip to start the frame before being advanced by a Cole Zabowski single. Elko then came through at the plate, smashing a double to right center to send Johnson home. Then well-hit balls by Grae Kessinger and Nick Fortes forced fielding errors by LBSU third baseman Shaq Robinson, and the Rebels scored runs off both fielding miscues to tie the game at three.
However, Long Beach State responded with back-to-back doubles in the bottom of the fifth to reclaim the lead.
Ryan Rolison earned his first loss of the season, going 6.2 innings, allowing eight hits and four runs--three earned--striking out three. Will Ethridge was strong in relief, delivering 1.1 innings of no-hit baseball, walking one and allowing no runs.
Fortunately for Ole Miss, the Rebels didn't have to let the taste of their first loss linger.
The Rebels jumped on the board early after a leadoff double by Will Golsan to start the second inning. Chase Cockrell then moved Golsan to third and reached base himself on a throwing error by the Long Beach State third baseman. With Elko at the plate, Dirtbag pitcher Zak Baayoun threw a wild pitch, allowing Golsan to score and Cockrell to move all the way to third. Elko then delivered his second RBI of the day, grounding out to second to plate Cockrell.
Ole Miss added a third run in the third inning when Fortes annihilated a first-pitch offering from Baayoun, sending it deep over the left field wall to make it a 3-0 game.
Starting pitcher Brady Feigl was lights-out for all but one inning against Long Beach State. The redshirt junior out of Chesterfield, Missouri, made a habit out of getting ahead in counts and retiring batters early in innings, aside from the fourth, where the Dirtbags recorded all three of their runs.
Long Beach State strung together four straight hits to start the fourth inning before Feigl hit the fifth batter, marking the second run of the game for the home team. The Dirtbags scored their third run on a fielder's choice and still had two runners on base with just one out. But before LBSU could break the inning open even further, a Feigl pickoff move caught Steven Rivas in a rundown for the second out. One pitch later, Feigl struck out Santino Rivera to escape the jam.
The game didn't stay tied for long. Jacob Adams opened the fifth with a bloop single into left field. The Rebel second baseman then stole second and grabbed third on a wild pitch, leading to an RBI groundout for Kessinger, giving Ole Miss what proved to be the game-winning run.
Adams was also outstanding defensively, including a spectacular glove-only putout on a slow dribbler to start the ninth inning.
After the rocky fourth inning, Feigl fell right back into his groove, retiring the next 10 batters in order before issuing a walk to Clayton Andrews with one out in the bottom of the eighth and giving way to closer Dallas Woolfolk.
The final inning was a nerve-wracking affair, as the Dirtbags loaded the bases with just one out. But clinging to a one-run lead, the Rebels' All-American closer got it done. An infield fly to third baseman Tyler Keenan and a flyout by Andrews to Thomas Dillard allowed Ole Miss to escape with a one-run victory.
With the series squared at one game apiece, the Rebels and Dirtbags will do battle in a Game 3 rubber match at 11:30 a.m. PT (1:30 p.m. CT) on Sunday. Right-hander James McArthur will toe the rubber for Ole Miss, while the Dirtbags will throw RHP Tyler Radcliffe.