Mississippi jumped on Tennessee early, knocking the Vols’ starter Zach Linginfelter out of the game in the fourth inning as the Rebels salvaged the series with a 5-4 win Saturday.
After Tennessee squandered a scoring chance in the first inning, the Rebels responded by taking a 1-0 lead in the second.
A leadoff walk for Cole Zabowski and a single by Ryan Olenek gave Ole Miss a pair of baserunners with nobody out. Zabowski tagged up to third on a fly out to left, and the Rebels attempted a double steal to give them the lead.
At first, Zabowski was ruled out at home, but after review, the play was overturned giving the Rebels an early lead. Linginfelter would retire the next two Rebels to end the inning.
Linginfelter ran into trouble again in the third inning, walking Thomas Dillard and hitting Grae Kessinger before Tyler Keenan took him deep to left field for a three run homer.
Mississippi knocked Linginfelter from the game in the fourth inning after a pair of singles gave the Rebels runners on the corners and one-out. Will Heflin came in in relief allowing a run to score on a sac fly but limiting further damage.
Linginfelter’s day ended with 3.1 innings pitched as the junior allowed five runs on four hits and two walks.
Tennessee got on the scoreboard in the bottom half of the fourth with a two-out rally. Al Soularie doubled, giving the Vols their first base-runner since the first inning, and Evan Russell followed up with a RBI single to right field.
Tennessee’s bullpen steadied the Vols after the inning and Heflin and Richard Jackson combined for 3.1 innings allowing zero runs, one hit, and two walks.
Tennessee finally knocked Ole Miss starter Gunnar Hoglund out of the game in the seventh inning after starting the inning with a single and a walk. He was replaced by Connor Green who only faced one batter, walking Jake Rucker and loading the bases.
Tyler Myers came in relief, attempting to get the Rebels out of the jam. Pete Derkay had other ideas, doubling down the right field line scoring a pair of runners.
Tennessee would get one more run on the inning thanks to a Landon Gray sac fly. Myers escaped the inning without giving up any earned runs, but he allowed all three runs he inherited to score as Tennessee cut Ole Miss’ lead to 5-4.
Hoglund ended the day with six innings pitched allowing five hits and three strikeouts.
“The kid (Hoglund) was picked 36th overall in the draft last year for a reason,” head coach Tony Vitello said. “He’s got good stuff, but there is also some deception to the stuff. I think it took the guys a little to get used to it, and also the kid keeps getting better… He’s going to be a handful when he’s a junior, but probably a heck of a lot earlier than that, and he was a handful today.”
Sean Hunley and Redmond Walsh would keep the deficit at one with two solid innings on the mound. Hunley has been strong for the Vols down the stretch as his role has increased in the bullpen.
“It’s been getting comfortable with a new role,” Vitello said. “He kind of established himself last year as a heck of a fourth starter and we still may need him to be a starter, but I think his poise and his strike throwing ability, and of course he has good stuff too is to valuable at the end of the game. I think it’s grown our options down there in the ‘pen.”
Tennessee couldn’t threaten in the eighth or the ninth, as Myers and Olenek pitched the final two frames without allowing a baserunner.
Soularie turned in a solid day at the plate going 2-for-4.
“It was just about staying with the approach,” Soularie said. “I’m familiar with Gunner (Hoglund) so I just knew what he was coming with. Staying back on the off-speed and driving it up the middle.”
With the loss Tennessee ended the regular season with a 38-18 record and 14-16 in SEC play.
Tennessee will return to action Tuesday in Hoover, Alabama for the SEC Tournament. The opponent is unknown at this time.