PEARL, Miss. -- In its first game as part of the 2015 Mississippi College Series, the Ole Miss baseball team dropped a close matchup to Southern Miss, 6-5, Tuesday night. The two in-state rivals battled it out at Trustmark Park in Pearl, Miss., but it was the Golden Eagles (18-11-1) who emerged with a one-run victory over the Rebels (16-17).
Eight different Rebels recorded hits throughout the evening, led by a career-high three from junior Connor Cloyd. Batting in the leadoff spot for the first time in his Ole Miss career, Cloyd went 3-for-5 with two runs to earn his third-straight multi-hit game. Sophomore Colby Bortles added a pair of hits and two RBI, while senior Sikes Orvis drove in his team-leading 28th and 29th runs of the season with his eighth double of the 2015 campaign.
On the mound, senior Sam Smith pitched 4.2 innings of relief and allowed just two runs on four hits. Mitchel Babb pitched 1.2 scoreless innings, and Drake Robison (0-1) had to settle for the loss in his first decision as a Rebel.
The Golden Eagles tallied 13 hits, including three from first baseman Tim Lynch. Kirk McCarty (1-0) did not allow an Ole Miss run over 2.2 innings to earn the victory, and Ryan Milton (7) pitched the ninth to get the save.
Southern Miss used three hits and took advantage of an error to score one run in the top of the first. However, the Rebels countered with two runs in the bottom half of the inning to take a 2-1 lead. Cloyd started things off with a base hit before Will Golsan doubled down the left field line to put two the two Rebels in scoring position. J.B. Woodman did his job with a groundball to the left side, scoring Cloyd, while Bortles followed with a sacrifice fly to deep right field to give Ole Miss the one-run advantage.
The Golden Eagles re-gained the lead with two runs in the second. USM recorded four hits off of Ole Miss starter Evan Anderson, forcing him out of the ballgame. The right-handed veteran Smith entered the contest with the bases loaded and one out, and got the Rebels out of the jam with a crucial groundball double play to end the inning, limiting the damage.
Each team plated a run in the third inning. Cloyd found a hole for his second hit in as many at-bats, and the junior later crossed the plate on a single by Bortles, the sophomore's second RBI of the contest.
After Smith worked a perfect top of the fifth, the Rebels claimed the lead in the bottom half. Woodman reached base due to an error and Bortles singled for the second time before Orvis cleared the bases with a double to the gap in left-center field. Through five complete innings, Ole Miss found itself ahead, 5-4.
USM tied the contest in the sixth before scoring the go-ahead run on a wild pitch during the seventh inning. Cloyd smacked his third hit of the night in the top of the ninth, and Kyle Watson entered the game representing the tying run. However, the Golden Eagles forced a groundout double play to end the game.
Ole Miss will have tomorrow off before returning to the diamond for SEC play. The Rebels will face No. 1 Vanderbilt in a three-game set beginning Thursday night, April 9. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. CT and will air on SEC Network. The entire series, which will be the Rebels' third against a top-ranked team in the nation, can be heard on the Ole Miss Radio Network.