May 14, 2011 11:20:00 PM
OXFORD -- The University of Mississippi baseball team used a six-run first inning and then rode the pitching of Austin Wright on Saturday to earn a 12-3 victory against Mississippi State at Oxford-University Stadium.
The victory helped Ole Miss improve to 28-23 and 12-15 in the Southeastern Conference. It also enabled the Rebels to snap the Bulldogs'' eight-game winning streak and beat them for the first time this season.
MSU (32-19, 13-14) entered the game looking for its first series sweep of Ole Miss since 2003. Instead, MSU settled for its third series win of the year, and second straight on the arch-rival''s campus.
MSU not only lost its eight-game win streak, but also had its a six-game conference winning streak and a three-game winning streak in the rivalry ended.
The Bulldogs remain one half-game out of first place in the Western Division standings. MSU trails Arkansas and Auburn (each at 13-13) and leads Alabama (12-14). Ole Miss is fifth, a game-and-a-half clear of LSU (10-16).
"We were able to win eight in a row," MSU coach John Cohen said. "I felt like this was the sloppiest game we''ve played in a while. Credit to Ole Miss. I think they came out and realized their whole season was on the line here. They just did a better job than we did today."
Wright (5-4) had the Bulldogs on lockdown. He pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing four hits and one run, with two walks and a season-best 10 strikeouts.
MSU starting pitcher Chris Stratton (6-6) had his shortest outing of the season, leaving after recording only two outs in the first.
Tanner Mathis opened Ole Miss'' first inning with a leadoff single. After a strikeout, a single by Alex Yarbrough and walk to Matt Snyder loaded the bases, Matt Tracy followed with a two-run single. An single by Will Allen added another score. An infield error cost the Bulldogs an out and plated another score. After a strikeout, a two-run single by Blake Newalu ran the lead to 6-0. A follow-up walk ended Stratton''s night on the mound.
Jonathan Ogden hit his team-leading eighth home run to lead MSU. He and C.T. Bradford had two hits apiece.
Yarbrough had four hits and four RBIs. Snyder had three hits and three RBIs, while Allen had two hits and two RBIs. Newalu also drove in a pair of runs.
n On Friday, Brent Brownlee''s two-run single broke a sixth-inning tie to help MSU earn a 7-4 victory and clinch the three-game series.
The Bulldogs broke a 3-3 tie with Brownlee''s two-out hit to right field. The Bulldogs then received a critical pair of insurance scores on a C.T. Bradford two-run double in the top half of the eighth. For the second time in as many nights, Caleb Reed entered in relief, securing a ninth-inning double play ball to snuff out the Rebels'' final threat.
"We had some really good swings," MSU coach John Cohen said. "One of the biggest ones was the last one. C.T. really needed that hit. That''s a hit that can help turn him around."
MSU has now won two straight series in Lafayette County, and four of the past six played on the Ole Miss campus.
"It has been a long haul for some of these guys and they''re finally competing at a level they knew we were going to get to," Cohen said. "I think our kids are excited about showing up to the ballpark every day."
MSU starting pitcher Nick Routt (2-2) worked 5 1/3 innings and earned the victory. He allowed five hits and three runs (all earned), with three strikeouts and two walks. Devin Jones faced one batter in relief. Tim Statz worked the Bulldogs out of a critical jam in the sixth and carried things until the ninth. Reed faced two batters to earn his 11th save, which moves him into sole possession of fourth place on the all-time MSU single-season saves chart.
The Bulldogs took a 3-2 lead in the fifth thanks to a double by Jonathan Ogden doubled and a single by Ryan Collins.
Ole Miss answered in its half of the inning with a sacrifice fly by Blake Newalu.
MSU then took charge with four two-out RBIs to salt away its third victory this season against Ole Miss.
"Two-out hits are huge," said Brownlee, an Oxford native. "They always say a two-out rally is huge and I am glad we could make a definition of that."
Brownlee and Ogden each had multiple hits.
Tanner Mathis had two hits for Ole Miss, and Will Allen hit his second home run in as many days.
Starting pitcher David Goforth (4-7) took the loss. He allowed five runs on seven hits with a walk and six strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.
"Mississippi State was able to grind out the bats and get big hits," Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. "The timely hit is so important and they got those. We weren''t able to get the big hits that we needed. I thought David Goforth was terrific tonight; he got himself in some tough situations but was able to get out f them. Again, they just got big timely hits."
n In related news, Ole Miss fans who won''t be able to travel next week to Arkansas still will be able to see the Rebels play.
CSS and CST will broadcast the first two games of the series, with CSS broadcasting the 6 p.m. game Friday. CST will broadcast the 2:05 p.m. game Saturday.