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Ole Miss goes quietly in series-opening loss at Auburn

Auburn landed the first blow against Ole Miss in one last series that both teams are trying to use to enhance their postseason resume.

Keegan Thompson and Cole Lipscomb silenced the Rebels’ bats with a combined three-hitter, and No. 23 Auburn took the opener of the teams’ final regular-season series 4-1 at Plainsman Park on Thursday. The win snapped a seven-game losing streak for the Tigers (33-21, 15-13 Southeastern Conference) while Ole Miss (31-23, 13-15) dropped to two games under .500 in league play with two games left before the SEC Tournament.

Friday’s game will begin at 6 p.m. Both teams were projected as 3 seeds in the NCAA Tournament by Baseball America and D1Baseball.com before the series began.

Ole Miss didn’t score until Colby Bortles plated Tate Blackman with a sacrifice fly in the ninth and didn’t get its first hit until Tim Rowe led off the eighth with a double. Thompson (6-4) retired nine in a row to start the game and 18 of the 20 batters he faced to lower his earned run average to 2.30, recording eight strikeouts and walking two in six innings before being pulled after 87 pitches following a weather delay.

Will Golsan’s ninth-inning single was the only other hit over the final three frames for the Rebels, who have just eight hits in their last two games. Lipscomb got back-to-back punchouts of Nick Fortes and Ryan Olenek for two of his four strikeouts to nail down the nine-out save.

Ole Miss’ James McArthur (3-6) also threw 87 pitches but was far less efficient in another short outing. The sophomore right-hander allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits while walking two and striking out four in just 3 1/3 innings and hasn’t made it past the fifth in any of his last three starts. He’s yielded 16 earned runs during that span.

Houston Roth and Brady Feigl combined to hold Auburn to a run on two hits the rest of the way, but Ole Miss rarely threatened the Tigers’ lead. Daniel Robert hit a two-run homer to put Auburn up 4-0 in the fourth while Jonah Todd also had an RBI.