Ross’ walk-off lifts baseball over No. 22 Mississippi State in 12 innings

Published 8:22 am Sunday, April 14, 2024

By Jeff Roberson

In the bottom of the 12th inning Saturday night at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field, Ole Miss’ Jackson Ross singled into center field and drove home two runs to lift his team to a thrilling 10-9 victory against Mississippi State. The series is now even at one win each.

Mississippi State had taken a 9-8 lead in the top of the 12th on a two-out solo home run by Johnny Long. In the bottom of the 12th, Ole Miss answered and more.

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Luke Hill was hit by a pitch, but he was later out at second on an Ethan Groff fielder’s choice. After Andrew Fischer walked, both he and Groff moved to second and third respectively on a wild pitch from State reliever Nolan Stevens.

After Ethan Lege was intentionally walked and Bo Gatlin struck out for the second out of the inning, Ross hit an 0-1 pitch that got Fischer and Groff home and Ole Miss the victory.

MSU led 7-3 when the Rebels mounted a major comeback in the bottom of the eighth. Will Furniss led things off with a single, followed by a Ross double to put runners on second and third. Campbell Smithwick singled to score Furniss. Trenton Lyons grounded out and Ross scored. It was 7-5 with MSU leading. A Brayden Randle double then scored Smithwick. After Hill flew out, Groff doubled down the left field line to score Randle.

That tied things 7-7 and would be all the Rebs would get in the frame. But the fireworks on this night had only begun.

After neither team managed to score in the ninth or the tenth, State retook the lead in the top of the 11th. With two outs, Hunter Hines launched one deep past the right field wall to give the Bulldogs an 8-7 lead. But in the bottom of the 11th, Ole Miss tied the game after Smithwick reached on a MSU fielding error and allowed Lege to score from third after he had gotten aboard on a leadoff single. It was 8-8 at that point.

That’s when State got a run via Long’s homer, and Ole Miss won the game on Ross’ two RBI single.

Ole Miss had jumped out to a 3-0 lead after three innings with a run in the second and two in the third. With a single, Lyons drove in Ross who had reached on a double. It was 1-0 after two innings. In the third, the Rebels got a two-run homer from Lege after Fischer walked.

But MSU bounced back with a run in the fourth and three in the fifth. Connor Hujsak homered to left for State to cut the Ole Miss lead to 3-1 in the fourth. After the Bulldogs scored two runs in the fifth, Rebel starter Liam Doyle was relieved by Josh Mallitz. MSU got only one more run before the inning was over but led 4-3. Then came a run in the seventh and two more in the eighth for the Bulldogs before Ole Miss made its dramatic comeback with four runs in the bottom of the eighth.

Lege, Ross, and Smithwick all had three hits each for the Rebels, who had 14 as a team in the game. Leading MSU’s 10-hit attack were David Mershon, Dakota Jordan, and Long with two hits each.

The Rebels’ sixth and final pitcher, Brayden Jones (1-0) got the win, while MSU’s last pitcher, Stevens (2-3) got the loss.

Ole Miss improved to 19-16 on the season and 4-10 in the Southeastern Conference. Mississippi State is now 22-13 and 7-7.

The teams play game three of the series at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday.