The Ole Miss baseball team was held in check by Auburn’s pitching Thursday night at Plainsman Park. Before an unexpected weather delay, the No. 23 Tigers (33-21, 15-13 SEC) jumped out to an early lead in the fourth inning and pushed past the Rebels (31-23, 13-15 SEC) 4-1 in the series opener.
The Tigers got to Ole Miss hurler James McArthur (3-6), who made his 12th start of the season going 3 1/3 innings with three runs, two earned, with four strikeouts. Reliever Houston Roth took over for McArthur and tossed 2 2/3 innings, tallying three strikeouts on 10 batters faced with one run surrendered. Following the weather delay, sophomore Brady Feigl contributed two strikeouts, while facing the minimum through two innings.
Auburn’s mound was the driving force behind the Rebels’ struggle tonight as their starting pitcher, Keegan Thompson, threw six innings not allowing a hit.
The Tigers and Rebels battled pitch for pitch in the first inning only facing seven betters between the two teams, but things took a turn in the second as Auburn used a pair of Ole Miss errors to score the game’s first run.
The Tigers looked to add to their lead one inning later, loading the bases with one out. However, McArthur forced two flyouts to get out of the jam unscathed and keep it a 1-0 ballgame.
Second baseman Tate Blackman was the first to reach base for the Rebels in the fourth with a walk. After a wild pitch, he moved into scoring position with Fortes at the plate. Fortes powered a pitch to left but was robbed of what would have been his sixth home run of the season by Auburn’s Sam Gillikin. In the bottom of the frame, the Tigers added three runs to their lead with the help of a two-run homer by Daniel Robert.
The battle of the pitchers continued into the seventh until a lightning delay brought the game to a halt. After 90 minutes of anticipation, the game resumed and the Rebels followed with a pair of doubles in back-to-back innings from designated hitter Tim Rowe and Blackman.
Right fielder Will Golson followed with a hit of his own, moving Blackman to third and after a sac fly from senior Colby Bortles, Blackman scored to put the Rebels on the board. Unfortunately, the Rebels rallied too late in the game to make time for a comeback.