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Perfect Ten For Wahl

He didn't have his best stuff. It didn't matter. He hadn't pitched in two weeks. It didn't matter. In the words of his coach, Bobby Wahl gutted it out on Saturday to win his 10th game of the season and kept Ole Miss alive in NCAA Tournament play.


"Fortunately for us, we had a big leaguer on the mound," head coach Mike Bianco said. "And I don't know if we had another guy that could win that game. Bobby, although he certainly didn't have his best stuff with a long layoff, again dealt with a blister on his finger, but just really gutted it out."


Wahl said he wanted to give the team a chance to win, and he did just that. The junior right-hander from Springfield, Va., allowed two runs, scattering eight hits with two walks and two strikeouts in seven innings.


"I feel that in any big game, I love to take the ball and give the team a chance to win," Wahl said. "And like coach (Bianco) said, I didn't have my best stuff today, but the only thing you can do in that situation is just give your team a chance to win."


With the win, Wahl, now 10-0, became the first 10-win pitcher for the Rebels in a season since Cody Satterwhite in 2006, just the third under Bianco and ninth in program history. 


He has started 16 games, leaving the game without a lead just once. He also holds a 2.06 ERA and has limited opposing hitters to a .197 average on the year.


"The year that Bobby's had and as inconsistent as maybe we have played throughout the year, he's been about the most consistent thing on this team," Bianco said. "And so, just a terrific, terrific year for him."


Bianco said he didn't consider anything but giving Wahl the ball on Saturday.


"After not pitching last week and the way we played yesterday, and I knew the pressure would be on today," Bianco said. "I knew that the kids would feel it today. And you have got to win today to move on. 


"We gambled a little bit, it didn't turn out the way we liked. It wasn't the way it was supposed to be, but I guess when it's all said and done, I'm not sure if we had another guy that could have won today, so I'm glad we had him."

Rebels Fall Into Losers' Bracket

What happened vs. William & Mary: William & Mary staked a 4-0 lead, scoring four runs on four walks and two errors in the fifth. On the mound, sophomore left-hander Jason Inghram allowed just two runs for the Tribe, scattering eight hits with a walk and three strikeouts.


"They played very clean baseball," head coach Mike Bianco said. "Inghram just filled up the zone the whole day. They played error-free, made all the plays. They made all the pitches to get out of innings. We just had the one inning that we couldn't get out of, and that was basically the ball game. It was one certainly we thought that got away."


Junior right-hander Mike Mayers got the start of the mound for Ole Miss and allowed four runs on three hits with six walks and three strikeouts in 4.2 innings of work.


"I felt fine warming up," Mayers said. "I went out there and struggled to find my fastball command, obviously. And in that one inning, it didn't matter what I did. I tried a few things, tried to fix it up. As a veteran, it's my job to fix it up and figure out, and get out of that big inning."


Ole Miss got a run back in both the sixth and seventh innings. The Rebels threatened again in the ninth, bringing the would-be game-winning runner to the plate with runners at first and second, but junior catcher Stuart Turner flied out to left to end the game. Ole Miss was 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position, leaving 10 runners on base.


"We didn't have a ton of runners in scoring position, but the few opportunities we did, we weren't able to keep the big hit, the big double," Bianco said. "A couple of times, a ground ball and a sac fly." 


"We just weren't able to bunch enough hits."


Greenwood out of the bullpen: Junior right-hander Aaron Greenwood came on in relief for Mayers and worked four scoreless innings, giving up four hits with a walk and two strikeouts.


He and junior left-hander Jeremy Massie, who retired the last William & Mary batter, also helped save the Ole Miss bullpen, as the Rebels look to play its way through the losers' bracket, which means four straight wins in three days.


"Aaron did a terrific job," Bianco said. "I'm proud of him. He had a little discomfort out there. He kind of stepped funny off the mound. He was having some pain in his hip. That's one of the first visits that we went out there for. He showed a lot of guts today and really competed well. Then Massie comes in and gets out of the ninth inning.


"But they're going to have pitch again if we get all the way though. Maybe, even Mike again. But that was big today. He gave us an opportunity."


Wahl to pitch tomorrow: Junior right-hander Bobby Wahl will get the start on the mound against the loser of tonight's North Carolina State-Binghamton in an elimination game at 1 p.m. CT on Saturday.


"You knew he going to pitch at some point," Bianco said of Wahl. "It wasn't by design that he was going to pitch an elimination game. But I don't think you feel comfortable now. Now, you just win pitches, win outs, win innings and starting grinding from here on out over the next three days and try to make a run."


Final word: "We play a little better defense, Mike throws a few more balls in the zone, or we bunch a few more hits together, and it's certainly a different feeling. We just didn't play very well in all three phases. I think they played than we did in all three phases of the game." -- Head coach Mike Bianco

Rebels React To NCAA Tournament

WHAT HAPPENED VS. ALABAMA: For the third time in the SEC Tournament, Ole Miss scored first with three runs in the second, then battled back to tie the 5-5 in the seventh, but fell to Alabama 7-5 in 10 innings. With the loss, the Rebels were eliminated from the SEC Tournament.


After a leadoff double by senior third baseman Andrew Mistone in the second, junior first baseman Preston Overbey and sophomore right fielder Will Jamison each followed with 2-out RBI to give Ole Miss a 3-0 lead.


Alabama scored two runs in the fourth, then three in the fifth to take a 5-3 lead. Ole Miss tied the game at 5-5 in the seventh, as junior catcher Stuart Turner delivered a 2-out, 2-RBI single to left after the Rebels loaded the bases on three straight 2-out walks.


Senior right-hander Brett Huber entered the game with runners at second and third and one out, then got two swinging strikes against Alabama shortstop Mikey White, who then delivered the big hit, a 2-RBI single up the middle through the drawn-in infield to give Alabama a 7-5 lead.


OLE MISS AWAITS NCAA TOURNAMENT ANNOUNCEMENT: The Field of 64 will be announced on May 27 at 11 a.m. CT on ESPNU. Ole Miss finished the season 37-22 with a No. 18 RPI and No. 8 strength of schedule, which includes series wins against Arkansas and Mississippi State.


WAGUESPACK IN HIS SECOND CAREER START: Freshman right-hander Jacob Waguespack got the start on the mound, his second of the season, and retired the first nine Alabama batters in order, including three strikeouts. 


He gave up two runs on two hits with two walks and a career-high three strikeouts in a career-long 3.2 innings of work, as he left with a 3-2 lead.


"I'm proud of his effort," head coach Mike Bianco said. "We challenged him. We knew that he would throw the ball in the strike zone without fear, and that's why we went with him. He deserved it. He's pitched well every time out. And as he mentioned, he's getting stronger and stronger. He's going to be a good."


Waguespack, who dealt with an elbow injury for much of the season, had made five appearances and allowed four runs -- three earned -- on seven hits with three walks and three strikeouts in 9.1 innings prior to Thursday's start.


"Like every guy on the staff, whenever you're called upon, you try to do your job, whether it's out of the bullpen, or whenever coach wants to start me," Waguespack said. "I'm just looking to contribute and get better every day."


BIANCO CONFIDENT IN BULLPEN: In the first two games of the SEC Tournament, the Ole Miss bullpen allowed one run on seven hits with two walks and six strikeouts in 6.1 innings. Against Alabama, it allowed five runs -- four earned -- on six hits with two walks and three strikeouts in 6.1 innings.


"Besides today for a couple of innings, a couple of pitches, I thought we pitched really well," Bianco said. "We gave ourselves an opportunity the first two games. We gave up two earned runs in 19 innings, and then today another 10-inning game. We hurt ourselves win an error one inning. 


"Scott (Weathersby) fell behind a little bit in his stint, but I thought besides him, we pitched pretty well today. So that's good going forward. That's been the Achilles' heel the last three or four weeks. Hopefully, we shored that up this week and got back to where we were with the bullpen a month ago."


Bianco noted it was good to see junior right-hander Aaron Greenwood and junior left-hander Jeremy Massie pitch well. 


Massie allowed just one hit with a walk and two strikeouts in 3.2 scoreless innings against Kentucky and Alabama. Greenwood took the loss against Arkansas, but allowed just one run on five hits with a walk and four strikeouts.


GETTING WAHL BACK ON SCHEDULE: Junior right-hander Bobby Wahl did not pitch for Ole Miss in the SEC Tournament this week. In his last start, May 18 against LSU, he gave up six runs on six hits with two walks and three strikeouts in 2.2 innings.


"Bobby would have pitched tomorrow, would have started tomorrow," Bianco said. "We talked about it prior to the game. Now, we'll just have to figure out what we want to do, as far as maybe a simulated bullpen, simulated game to let him throw a little bit. 


"He needed the rest as well. Unfortunately, we didn't stay here long enough for him him to pitch. For him personally, I don't think it's going to be a bad thing next week. Not pitching for him, I don't think is going to be a bad thing at all."

Another Quality Start For Smith

Behind Bobby Wahl and Mike Mayers, sophomore right-hander Sam Smith has quietly put together a stellar season in his own right. The regular third starter in the weekend rotation, the Lake Charles, La., native is 3-0 with a 3.11 ERA and 1.38 WHIP.


"I have always thought I had the potential to go out there and pitch in the SEC," Smith said. "That's why I came here. I just hadn't showed it yet. I think I have done that."


Smith took a no-decision in Wednesday's 4-1 loss to Arkansas, but he continued his success on the mound, giving up just one run on six hits with a walk and four strikeouts in six innings. In the third, he retired three batters in order after back-to-back singles to start the inning, then pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth.


"My defense helped me out a lot," Smith said. "Andrew Mistone made some really good plays. It helped a lot I was able to fill up the zone with all my pitches. I got my slider in the second or third inning. That was a good pitch for me. I was able to locate that well. I was able to keep them off balance, and that was big for me."


His six innings of work tied a career high, most recently against Mississippi State, in which he picked up his third win of the season. He gave up three runs -- one earned -- on eight hits with two strikeouts, as Ole Miss won 10-8.


"I was getting pretty tired, but I was still able to throw all my pitches for strikes," Smith said of pitching six innings. "I think as long as I could do that, I was fine. I felt OK."


Over his last seven starts, dating back to April 14 against Alabama, Smith has allowed just 10 runs, eight of which were earned, in 35 innings.


"Coach (Carl) Lafferty has worked a lot with me in the bullpen," Smith said. "We have been working on a lot of things. My defense has really what has given me the most confidence. I'm not scared to go after people and let them hit the ball because they have made some great plays for me."


Smith said he feels like he has been pitching about the same, just doing a better job throwing pitches for strikes and keeping the ball down. He also credited Wahl and Mayers, and their approach on the mound. 


"Those guys compete harder than anyone I have ever seen," Smith said of Wahl and Mayers. "I try to model my competitiveness after them. They're fun to watch. I think a lot of what I need to work on was runners in scoring position, two outs and making big pitches to get out of the inning. I think I have been doing a better of job of that."


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