HOUSTON -- Facing an unbeaten team for the fourth time this season, the Ole Miss baseball team fell 4-0 to Baylor in the first game of the 2017 Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic Friday afternoon at Minute Maid Park. Despite getting a runner on in seven of the nine innings, the Rebels (7-2) were limited to just two hits in the setback.
Facing their fourth unbeaten team of the year, Ole Miss suffered its first loss against a ranked opponent this season (6-1).
Baylor (10-0), a team off to its best start since 1984, tallied three runs off Ole Miss starter David Parkinson (2-1). The southpaw suffered his first loss over his last five starts, dating back to last season. Out of the bullpen, Andy Pagnozzi only allowed one run on one hit in a career-high 4.0 innings of relief.
Along with hits by Colby Bortles and Cole Zabowski, Ole Miss was able to draw five walks throughout the contest as Tate Blackman walked three times on the afternoon.
Nick Lewis (3-0) tossed 7.0 shutout innings for Baylor, while Kyle Hill pitched the final two innings. Seven Bears recorded hits at the plate, including two by center fielder Richard Cunningham.
The Bears jumped out to an early lead with a pair of runs in the second. Following a leadoff single to begin the frame, Ole Miss left fielder Thomas Dillard just missed a diving catch down the left field line. With the ball rolling to the wall, Baylor sent the runner from first to home. A perfect relay from Dillard to Grae Kessinger to Cooper Johnson was made, but a collision at the plate forced the baseball out of Johnson's glove for the first run of the game. Another base hit scored another Bear, and Baylor looked to put together a big inning by loading the bases. However, Parkinson forced a groundout to leave the bases juiced and keep the deficit at two.
Lewis continued to keep the Ole Miss bats in check, allowing his offense to add to the lead in the bottom of the fourth. A walk combined with two singles gave Baylor a 3-0 advantage. Two innings later, the Bears used a triple and a sacrifice fly to make it a four-run game.
Pagnozzi finished the game strong, retiring the final seven hitters he faced to help keep the Ole Miss bullpen full of arms for the rest of the weekend. However, the Rebels couldn't muster a rally in the late stages.
Ole Miss will return to Minute Maid Park tomorrow for its second game of the Shriners College Classic. The Rebels will face Texas Tech. First pitch is slated for 12:05 on Fox Sports (regional coverage) and the Fox Sports GO app. Fans can also tune in to David Kellum and Keith Kessinger on the Ole Miss IMG Sports Network.