May 2, 2010 12:08:00 AM
David Miller -
STARKVILLE -- Middle inning madness and potent Ole Miss offense clinched its weekend Southeastern Conference series with Mississippi State following a 12-10 win Saturday at Dudy Noble Field.
Ole Miss (32-13, 13-7 SEC) was powered by a nine-run spree that spanned the fifth and sixth innings, while Mississippi State (20-22, 5-15) took advantage of a shaky outing from Ole Miss No. 2 pitcher Aaron Barrett.
The Bulldogs, however, were dealt with a two-run gap in the bottom of the ninth and for the second-straight game had its own miscues in the field contribute to its demise.
Mississippi State had three errors and had four in a 4-2 loss to the Rebels on Friday.
Early on, it looked like the Rebs would rue an early yank on the mound as Barrett was all over the plate through the first four innings. He gave the Bulldogs four extra bases via passed balls and wild pitches. Two Mississippi State runs -- one in the first and one in the third -- were a result of Barrett''s shaky command.
Barrett''s wild delivery resulted in three hit batters, four wild pitches and an early exit from the game after the Rebs'' No. 2 advanced two runners into scoring position and gave up a two-RBI single to Nick Vickerson.
Rory McKean got the ball from the bullpen, and Barrett left the fourth inning with four earned runs on just two hits.
MSU carried a 5-2 lead when Barrett exited, but the Bulldogs had to worry about starter pitching Chris Stratton slowing down from a sizzling start that included four consecutive strikeouts to start the game.
Stratton gave up a pair in the second and was aided by a 5-3 double play to end the third. He faced four batters in the fourth, but the fifth inning turned disastrous for the Tupelo native and the Bulldogs, who entered the frame with a three-run lead.
Stratton gave up four hits and three runs before he was replaced by Greg Houston, who immediately gave up a pair of RBI singles to Alex Yarbrough and Kevin Mort.
For the second-straight week, Stratton had a start done in by one rough inning. He gave up eight hits in the fourth inning last week at Alabama.
Stratton gave up seven earned runs on seven hits in a little over four innings pitched Saturday. He struck out five and walked three.
Sloppiness ensued in the sixth inning when Jet Butler bobbled an out and was caught napping as Miles Hamblin crossed home to a late throw from the MSU second baseman. Butler was in the middle of another inning-extending bobble when his low toss to Jonathan Ogden ended up on the ground and gave up an Ole Miss run.
The Rebels carried an 11-7 lead into the bottom of the sixth, but Mississippi State recovered immediately with a Luke Adkins two-RBI single to left field. Mississippi State scored three runs in the bottom of the inning to make it a one-run game going into the seventh.
Mississippi State and Ole Miss went scoreless over the seventh and eighth innings, but Ole Miss threatened to extend its one-run lead when an error at short by Johnathan Ogden gifted a base runner instead of making it two outs. Taylor Hightower followed with a single and Tim Ferguson singled in a run off the left field wall as Devin Jones'' scoreless pair in the seventh and eighth turned south. MSU closer Ben Bracewell entered the game with a two-run gap.
Matt Snyder led the Rebels with three RBIs, while Zach Miller was 3 for 3 with an RBI.
Vickerson led the Bulldogs at the plate, going 3 for 4 with two RBIs.
Houston (5-1) suffered the loss for the Bulldogs, giving up two earned runs on four hits.
Despite giving up two earned runs on three hits, Matt Crouse picked up his fifth win of the season in a third of an inning''s work.
The teams meet in the final game of the series today with the first pitch scheduled for 1:30 p.m.