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No. 4 Ole Miss drops series at South Carolina with another lopsided loss

Ole Miss traveled to Columbia, South Carolina this weekend in hopes of sustaining its momentum amid the race for an SEC Western Division championship and a national seed.

Instead, the Rebels’ second losing streak of the season has them trying to avoid their first empty weekend in nearly a year.

After falling 13-5 in Friday’s series opener against South Carolina, No. 4 Ole Miss dropped the series with an 11-6 loss Saturday at Founders Park. It’s the first time all season Ole Miss (35-13, 12-11 SEC) has allowed double-digit runs in back-to-back games.

The loss dropped the Rebels 2 1/2 games back of Arkansas and into a tie for second with Auburn, a winner over Vanderbilt earlier in the day, atop the Western Division standings pending the outcome of the Razorbacks’ game against LSU later tonight. Ole Miss will try to avoid being swept for the first time since May 5-7, 2017 at Florida in Sunday’s 11 a.m. finale.

Grae Kessinger hit a two-run home run as part of a five-run eighth inning that made the score more respectable while Ryan Olenek’s fifth-inning double extended his hitting streak to 22 games, but the starting pitching never gave Ole Miss much of a chance to win its third straight series. A night after Ryan Rolison allowed season-highs in hits (10) and earned runs (8) in his shortest outing of the season (3 1/3 innings), junior Brady Feigl (7-4) went the same distance Saturday, getting tagged for eight runs on seven hits while walking three and striking out six.

South Carolina (28-18, 13-10) did most of its damage early against the right-hander with three runs in the third and five more in the fourth on the way to its eighth win in its last nine games. Carlos Cortes went 3-for-4 with his second two-run double making it 10-1 in the fifth while one of Matt Williams’ three hits went for a two-run homer.

Will Golsan’s RBI single in the fourth was all Ole Miss mustered against Carolina right-hander Adam Hill (5-5), who scattered three hits and struck out six over six innings.

The short outings from Rolison and Feigl have taxed the Rebels’ bullpen, which has already used five arms to log 9 1/3 innings in the series. Greer Holston, Houston Roth (two scoreless innings in his first appearance since April 10) and Will Stokes all threw at least one inning Saturday, though Will Ethridge and Parker Caracci have yet to be used this weekend.