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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Wahl has career game in 8-2 win

VIDEO BLOG: The long-time cloud that has plagued the Ole Miss basketball program has finally been lifted. The literal rain clouds, however, still loom over Oxford. Despite on again, off again showers earlier in the day, the No. 6 Rebels will host Texas A&M for Game 1 of the weekend’s three-game set today at 6:30 p.m.

After taking two of three at Arkansas last weekend to open Southeastern Conference play, Ole Miss will host an Aggies team this weekend that swept Georgia in their first-ever in-league series with an SEC foe.

Heading into this weekend’s series, the Rebels boast an impressive 20-2 overall record despite getting minimal — or zero — contributions from expected contributors Chris Ellis, Hawtin Buchanan, Jake Waguespack, Sikes Orvis and Will Allen.

Luckily for the Rebels, several other players have picked up the slack, paving the way for their impressive, record-breaking start (Ole Miss’ 19-1 start is the best in program history). Click the link to read today’s preview article, focusing on the team’s “who’s next” approach this season.

The Rebels may be getting a boost soon in the form of Ellis and Buchanan. Last week, Allen and Orvis seemed to finally find their swings at Arkansas. In the coming weeks, the two Rebel pitchers are expected to find their ways back out to the game mound. Ellis has thrown two bullpens since being shut down and could pitch a couple of relief innings against the Aggies. Buchanan, meanwhile, threw his first bullpen Tuesday and isn’t far behind Ellis.

MATHIS ON THE MEND: Ole Miss senior left fielder Tanner Mathis has battled a nagging hamstring injury all season, but Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco believes the leadoff batter is about to turn the corner for a number of reasons.

“I don’t think he’s full speed yet. Watching him run to first base, he’s not running like he used to but it’s not because of pain,” Bianco said. “It’s some bad weather. I think what’s going to help him the most is the warm weather. Between innings he still has a heat pack on it and as you’ve noticed I take him out at the end a lot just for precautionary reasons.”

The injury hasn’t been debilitating enough to keep Mathis out of the lineup, but his offensive numbers (.262 average, .385 on-base percentage) are drastically below his career averages. In order to pick and choose when Mathis is needed, Bianco has given freshman outfielder Cameron Dishon several opportunities as a late-inning substitute or pinch runner.

“It’s tough in conference to take one of your best hitters out of the lineup, but a lot of times if we have the lead and he has taken his last at-bat, a lot of the times I’m taking him out. One, Dishon might be our best base stealer and he’s an excellent outfielder. If Mathis isn’t going to bat again it might be safe to put him out there.

“I don’t think it’s hurting him, I just don’t think his speed is at 100 percent. It’s just tightness and the weather.”

TAKING THE MOUND: Ole Miss will turn to usual ace Bobby Wahl to get the series started. Wahl is 5-0 on the year with a 1.82 ERA. In 29.2 innings, Wahl has allowed six earned runs on 17 walks and 20 hits while racking up 27 strikeouts and holding opponents to a .194 batting average. Last week at then-No. 15 Arkansas, Wahl allowed one run in seven innings as the Rebels took the series opener against the Hogs.

Texas A&M will counter with senior Kyle Martin. The right-hander is 2-2 with a 3.52 ERA. In 30. 2 innings, Martin has struck out 30 against just six walks. He has also held opponents to a .267 batting average.

EXTRA BASES: Saturday’s game is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. start and will be televised on ESPNU with Kyle Peterson and Mike Morgan calling the action. Ole Miss and Texas A&M will wrap up the series Sunday with a 1:30 p.m. start. … Texas A&M leads the all-time series 3-2 and is coming off of a threegame sweep against Georgia. … Ole Miss will stick to its weekend rotation of Bobby Wahl (5-0, 1.82 ERA), Mike Mayers (2-1, 2.79) and Smith. Texas A&M will counter with senior right-hander Kyle Martin (2-2, 3.52) tonight and sophomore right-handers Daniel Mengden (3-1, 1.82) and Jason Freeman (1-0, 1.23) Saturday and Sunday. … Ole Miss’ 19-1 start to the season was the best in program history, besting 18-2 starts in 1960, ‘64 and ‘04. … Ole Miss catcher Stuart Turner has a team-best 17game hitting streak, dating back to Feb. 23. It’s the ninth longest streak in school history. … Saturday is Mike Mayers Mask night for the first 8,000 fans.

——— AROUND THE LEAGUE ———

Friday’s Games
Texas A&M at Ole Miss, 6:30 p.m.
Mississippi State at Kentucky, 5:30 p.m. (ESPN3)
Missouri at Tennessee, 5 p.m.
Alabama at Georgia, 6 p.m.
Arkansas at South Carolina, 6 p.m. (ESPN3)
Florida at Vanderbilt, 6:30 p.m.
Auburn at LSU, 7 p.m.

Satuday’s Games
Texas A&M at Ole Miss, 7:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
Mississippi State at Kentucky, 1 p.m.
Alabama at Georgia, 2 p.m.
Florida at Vanderbilt, 2 p.m. (ESPN3)
Missouri at Tennessee, 3 p.m.
Arkansas at South Carolina, 3 p.m. (ESPN3)
Auburn at LSU, 6:30 p.m.

Sunday’s Games
Texas A&M at Ole Miss, 1:30 p.m.
Mississippi State at Kentucky, noon
Florida at Vanderbilt, noon
Arkansas at South Carolina, 12:30 p.m.
Missouri at Tennessee, 1 p.m.
Alabama at Georgia, 1 p.m.
Auburn at LSU, 1 p.m. (COX)

——— STARTERS ———

TEXAS A&M AGGIES (15-7 overall, 3-0)
SS Mikey Reynolds (.448 BA/.495 OBP/.506 SLG)
CF Krey Bratsen (.263/337.289)
3B Blake Allemand (.231/.390/.338)
DH Mitchell Nau (.269/.339/.404)
1B Cole Lankford (.342/.368/.534)
LF Jonathan Moroney (.308/.329/.431)
C Troy Stein (.263/.311/.351)
2B Charlie Curl (.190/.284/.259)
RF Jace Statum (.333/.478/.489)
RHP Kyle Martin (2-2, 3.52 ERA, .267 B/Avg.)

No. 6 OLE MISS REBELS (20-2, 2-1)
LF Tanner Mathis (.262/.385/.275)
CF Auston Bousfield (.323/.385/.430)
SS Austin Anderson (.325/.402/.422)
C Stuart Turner (.474/.506/.697)
3B Andrew Mistone (.293/.393/.360)
1B Sikes Orvis (.242/.333/.348)
DH Will Allen (.253/.276/.301)
RF Will Jamison (.263/.413/.351)
2B Preston Overbey (.333/.351/.472)
RHP Bobby Wahl (5-0, 1.82, .194)

———SCORING SUMMARY———

OLE MISS 2, Texas A&M 0 (Bottom 4): Designated hitter Will Allen gives Ole Miss a 1-o lead with a hard-hit two-out double into the left-center gap, scoring first baseman Sikes Orvis from first. Right fielder Will Jamison then doubled into the right field corner, scoring Allen to put the Rebs ahead 2-0.

OLE MISS 6, Texas A&M 0 (Bottom 5): Back-to-back infield singles by left fielder Tanner Mathis and center fielder Auston Bousfield set up a big inning for the Rebels. Shortstop Austin Anderson and catcher Stuart Turner tallied RBI-singles in consecutive at-bats to push Ole Miss’ lead to 4-0. Third baseman Andrew Mistone pushed Ole Miss’ lead to 5-0 on a sacrifice fly to right. Aggie shortstop Mikey Reynolds then booted a grounder by Allen, ending the night of starter Kyle Martin. Two relief pitchers later, Preston Overbey hit a hard chopper to Reynolds with the bases loaded. Reynolds looked to third, then second before throwing to first but Overbey beat the throw, scoring Turner to cap the frame’s scoring.

Ole Miss 6, TEXAS A&M 2 (Top 6): Texas A&M third baseman Blake Allemand singled through the right side, scoring Reynolds to break the shutout. A Mistone error — on a hard grounder off the bat of DH Mitchell Nau — scored the Aggies’ second run.

OLE MISS 7, Texas A&M 2 (Bottom 6): Bousfield sent the first pitch from relief pitcher Rafael Pineda over the left field wall to open the bottom of the sixth. The homer was Bousfield’s second of the season.

OLE MISS 8, Texas A&M 2 (Bottom 8): Turner extended Ole Miss’ lead to 8-2 in the eighth on a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Cameron Dishon, who was pinch running for Mathis.

FINAL SCORE: No. 6 Ole Miss 8, Texas A&M 2.

HOW THE GAME WAS WON: Ole Miss ace Bobby Wahl had a career day against the Aggies, allowing two runs (one earned) in a career-long eight innings. He also allowed seven hits with zero walks and struck out a season-best nine. … Aaron Greenwood allowed one hit and struck out one in a scoreless ninth. … Bousfield, Anderson, Turner, Allen each had two hits; Turner pushed his team-best hitting streak to 18 games with his 2-for-3 performance. … Texas A&M starter Kyle Martin fell to 2-3 on the year after allowing six runs (five earned) in 4.2 innings, his second-shortest start of the season. Game 2 is set for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and will be televised on ESPNU.

PARTING VIEW: Below is our post-game interview with Wahl:

For more on Friday’s win, checkout Monday’s print edition of the Oxford EAGLE. (March 22, 2013)

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