After trailing by five through the first five innings, Ole Miss rallied and brought the tying run to the plate in the top of the ninth.
However, the comeback fell short as the Rebels (29-20, 11-13) dropped the series finale to No. 5 Florida 6-4 Sunday afternoon at McKethan Stadium.
The top four hitters in the lineup did all of the damage at the plate for Ole Miss. Tate Blackman score two of the teams four runs, while also recording a double and his eighth home run of the season. Batting second, Will Golsan earned this team-leading 17th multi-hit game of 2017. Senior Colby Bortles followed with an RBI triple, and cleanup hitter Nick Fortes completed a strong week by going 3-for-4 with two RBI.
Three Rebel relievers pitched the final 3.1 innings without surrendering a run. Will Stokes tossed 1.1 frames, while freshmen Houston Roth and Will Ethridge each pitched one scoreless inning apiece. Starter David Parkinson (5-3) took the loss, allowing three runs on five in 3.1 innings.
Florida (35-13, 16-8 SEC) had three Gators with multi-hit games, and sophomore pitcher Jackson Kowar (8-0) remained undefeated on the mound. Kowar gave up two runs on six hits in 6.2 innings before turning over the game to his bullpen. Michael Byrne (13) got the final five outs of the contest to collect his second save in as many days.
Parkinson retired the first six hitters he faced, while a single from Nick Fortes was all the Rebels could muster through the first two innings.
In the bottom of the third, a leadoff homer by Jonathan India put the Gators ahead 1-0. Florida added two singles to put two on with one out, prompting a visit to the mound by head coach Mike Bianco. On the first pitch following the halt of play, Parkinson issued a groundball to third, and Colby Bortles started the 5-4-3 double play to get Ole Miss out of the inning trailing only by one.
The Rebels got the run back in the fourth as Fortes doubled to the left-center gap to score Golsan from first after the Ole Miss center fielder started the frame with an infield single. However, Florida regained the lead with two runs in the bottom half of the inning. As the home team went ahead by one, Greer Holston took Parkinson’s spot on the mound with the bases loaded and one out. The freshman limited the damage by recording back-to-back flyouts to end the frame. The first flyball was deep enough to score the runner from third, but Holston stranded the other two inherited runners. Through four innings of play, UF held a 3-1 advantage.
Florida tallied three runs in the fifth to build its lead. Blackman got one back for the Rebs in the sixth. Leading off the inning, he hit a solo blast the easily cleared the seats in left field. The homer cut the deficit to four runs, and Will Stokes retired the side to keep it a 6-2 ballgame.
Following another scoreless inning on the mound, this time by freshman Houston Roth, Ole Miss sliced the Florida lead in half with a pair of runs in the eighth. Blackman started the scoring frame with a leadoff double before he scored easily on Bortles’ triple to deep center field. Fortes continued his strong game at the dish, doing his job to score his teammate from third on a groundout to the right side of the infield. Following a walk, Ethridge relieved Roth and sent down three straight Gators to end any threat. Heading into the ninth, the Rebels trailed by only two, 6-4.
In the ninth, Thomas Dillard drew a leadoff walk to bring the tying run to the plate. However, three consecutive flyouts brought the thought of an Ole Miss comeback to an end as Florida held on to a two-run victory.