Ole Miss Salvages A Game In Their Series With MSU

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) _ A bloop, a bad hop and a few well-placed grounders added up to one bizarre big inning for Mississippi. That strange five-run rally, combined with some solid pitching, helped Ole Miss beat Mississippi State 6-3 on Sunday and salvage the last game of the three-game series. The Rebels (36-19-1, 17-13 Southeastern Conference) and Bulldogs (32-21, 17-13) finished the season tied for second in the SEC West, a game behind LSU, which lost to Auburn 9-6. Dan McShea (4-5) worked 6 2-3 innings and allowed three runs _ one earned _ and seven hits to help Ole Miss snap a six-game SEC losing streak as it heads into the conference tournament this week. ``It takes a lot of pressure off,'' McShea said. ``Guys go in a lot looser. You're not thinking 'That's six games in a row we've lost. We've gotten swept twice.' That's forgotten now.'' With his curveball working better than usual, McShea struck out seven and survived a shaky start. ``Our guy was outstanding,'' Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. ``We needed an effort like that.'' Nathan Lyons and Glen Morris held the Bulldogs to one hit over the final 2 1-3. Morris earned his eighth save. Still, the Rebels lost their last two SEC series of the season and may have cost themselves the opportunity to host an NCAA regional for the first time. The 16 regional sites will be announced Monday. Mississippi State starter Jeff Hunter held the Rebels scoreless on one hit for four innings. Nursing a tender elbow that has hindered him all year, the senior was limited to 57 pitches in his third start of the season. He left with a 3-0 lead. ``I wish I could have stayed in a little longer,'' Hunter said.

Bulldogs coach Pat McMahon said he planned to be extra cautious with the senior, especially with the postseason just days away. Adam Larson (2-5) entered in the fifth and was both unlucky and ineffective, allowing six hits and five runs in 2-3 of an inning. A bloop double by Charlie Waite scored the first run of the inning and Kris Cox followed with a solid RBI single to make it 3-2. Then the ball started bouncing and rolling in the Rebels' direction. Only one of the next six hitters managed to get a ball out of the infield _ and that was on a bad hop _ but three infield hits, an error and a ground out produced three runs and gave Ole Miss a 5-3 lead before Ryan Carroll got the last out of the inning. ``Any time you put up five runs in an inning it's a confidence booster,'' said Burney Hutchinson, who contributed a swinging bunt that hugged the first-base line for an infield hit and a run scored in the quiet outburst. ``That was one of the longest innings I have sat through in a long time,'' Mississippi State coach Pat McMahon said. Mississippi State made two errors in the eighth to give Ole Miss its final run. The Bulldogs committed four errors. ``Our goal was to secure a spot in the SEC tournament and we did that,'' Bulldogs catcher Jason Burkley said. ``It's tough to sweep on the road in the SEC.'' The Bulldogs will be the fourth seed in the SEC tournament and play South Carolina Wednesday night. Ole Miss is seeded sixth and plays Tennessee on Wednesday morning. Burkley had an RBI single in the first and a run-scoring double in the fifth that gave Mississippi State a 3-0 advantage. Craig Nugen kept the Bulldogs from adding to their lead in the fifth when he threw out Brent Lewis trying to score on Matthew Brinson's fly ball to left field. ``It seemed to spark us a bit,'' Nugen said of his throw. The crowd of 3,871 was the smallest of the weekend, but the three-day total of 14,372 was the second-best ever at Swayze Field.