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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Kentucky blanks Ole Miss to open SEC Tournament

BLOG: Ole Miss’ “second season” gets an early-morning jump-start today with a 9:30 a.m. game against fourth-seeded Kentucky today.

The first game of the Southeastern Conference Tournament at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala., will be televised on SportSouth.

Checkout today’s print edition of the Oxford EAGLE for Bobby Wahl‘s take on starting for ninth-seeded Ole Miss against the Wildcats. Both Wahl and Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco agree it’s not that big of a deal.

“I feel great. I’m sure there will be plenty of adrenaline going — even at 9:30 in the morning,” Wahl said prior to Monday’s practice at Oxford-University Stadium. “I’m excited for it. I really am. I’m not much of a morning person, but I don’t think that’ll matter, especially when you’re playing baseball.”

Bianco said the bigger issue is having a long gap before the ace’s next start.

“Everybody talks about short rest, but one of the things that concerns me and always has with the SEC Tournament is the earlier you throw your number one the longer he has to wait to pitch again in the NCAA Tournament,” he said. “Sometimes that’s a tough thing and we’ve had some issues with that before where guys have had 10 days off and so sometimes that might be a bigger concern. But right now I think it’s more important for us to have success in the tournament and to win some baseball games after we finished last weekend.”

LET’S GO STREAKING: In order to have a successful postseason, the Rebels are going to have to do something they haven’t done all season: Go streaking.
During the season,  Ole Miss had two six-game winning streaks during the non-conference portion of the season. One the Rebels hit their SEC schedule, their longest streak was a four-game stretch that consisted of single games against Georgia and Mississippi State in Pearl, and two games against Arkansas.
“This team has struggled to be consistent,” Bianco said. “We’ve been good on certain days and on certain weekends, but it’s been hard for us to put a big run together. I think it’s not one particular thing. There’s been days or a span where we haven’t  scored. There’s been a span where we have a bad pitching performance mixed in there and it has been difficult through 56 games for us to go on a long run. The thing that keeps us optimistic is we’ve had some really good weekends.”
Wahl, like the rest of his teammates, is hoping today provides the jolt the team is in need of.
“It’s baseball. Baseball is a funny game and I think we’re just waiting it out,” he said. “Going into this tournament I think we’re feeling good. Obviously we didn’t have a great weekend this weekend, but I think the team feels like we’re due. They really think and believe that we’re going to win.”
Wahl later added: “I think we’re really excited for it to get hot in Hoover… I think it’s going to be good for us. I think there’s a good chance we’re going to get hot and go into the postseason with a good winning streak.”
INJURY UPDATE: Ole Miss will be without the services of sophomore Austin Anderson for the week. The shortstop fractured a finger on his throwing hand against Arkansas State on May 15 and did not travel to Nashville, Tenn., with the team.
Senior Blake Newalu is coming off of a serious case of shinsplints that held him out of the Tennessee series, but he started all three games at Vanderbilt and is expected to retain his starting role as long as the Rebels are in the SEC Tournament.
Used primarily against right-handers during the regular season, Newalu is hitting .360 (27-for-75) with a .395 on-base percentage and a .467 slugging percentage.
———AROUND THE LEAGUE——— 

Who has the toughest jobs in the Southeastern Conference? Kevin Scarbinsky of the Birmingham News says it’s the league’s baseball coaches.

———TUESDAY’S SCHEDULE———

Game 1: No. 4 Kentucky vs. No. 9 Ole Miss, 9:30 a.m. (SportSouth)
Game 2: No. 6 Arkansas vs. No. 7 Mississippi State, TBD (SportSouth)
Game 3: No. 3 Florida vs. No. 10 Auburn, 4:30 p.m. (CSS)
Game 4: No. 5 Vanderbilt vs. No. 8 Georgia, TBD (CSS)

**If Ole Miss wins Game 1, it will play No. 1 LSU on Wednesday following Game 5. If Ole Miss loses, it will case the loser of Arkansas-Mississippi State at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday. Both games will be televised on SportSouth.

———STARTING LINEUPS——

No. 9 OLE MISS REBELS (34-22 overall)
LF Tanner Mathis (.350 BA/.450 OBP/.400 SLG)
2B Alex Yarbrough (.386/.439/.520)
1B Matt Snyder (.327/.396/.573)
C Will Allen (.311/.339/.406)
CF Auston Bousfield (.282/.359/.364)
DH John Gatlin (.282/.440/.385)
RF Preston Overbey (.268/.327/.362)
3B Andrew Mistone (.233/.300/.291)
SS Blake Newalu (.360/.395/.467)
RHP Bobby Wahl (6-2, 2.20 ERA)

No. 4 KENTUCKY WILDCATS (41-15)
CF Austin Cousino (.330/.415/.542)
3B Thomas McCarthy (.300/.390/.448)
1B Luke Maile (.319/.426/.556)
LHP A.J. Reed (.295/.383/.399) + (4-2, 3.00 ERA)
C Michael Williams (.297/.373/.390)
RF Cameron Flynn (.284/.345/.497)
2B J.T. Riddle (.286/.364/.413)
LF Zac Zellers (.287/.440/.460)
SS Matt Reida (.245/.305/.328)

———SCORING UPDATE———

KENTUCKY 1, Ole Miss 0 (Bottom 4): Fresh off of throwing just five pitches in the top of the inning, Kentucky southpaw A.J. Reed swatted a 2-0 offering from Rebel ace Bobby Wahl over the right field wall to put the Wildcats ahead 1-0.

KENTUCKY 2, Ole Miss 0 (Bottom 6): Right fielder Cameron Flynn singled past Rebel first baseman Matt Snyder with one out to score first baseman Luke Maile.

———THE NUMBERS GAME———

Wahl pitched well for the Rebels, allowing two runs on six hits and two walks while also striking out six in the losing effort. Reed did it all for Kentucky, allowing just five hits and one walk in 5.2 innings to improve to 5-2. Reed was also 4-for-4 at the plate with what ended up being the game-winning solo homer in the fourth. Taylor Rogers closed out the game by allowing two hits in the next 3.1 innings to earn his first save on the season.

Snyder led the Rebels with a 4-for-4 day (all singles). Tanner Mathis, Auston Bousfield and Andrew Mistone each had one hit apiece.

With the loss, Ole Miss will have to turn around and play the loser of Arkansas and Mississippi State on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.

Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said the Rebels will start right-hander Mike Mayers.

 (May 22, 2012)

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