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And just like that, it's over.


A face of the program for the better part of four years, Tanner Mathis was one of four seniors to play their last game in an Ole Miss uniform. But he certainly leaves behind a legacy.


"It's always disappointing when it ends," head coach Mike Bianco said after Sunday's loss to William & Mary. "We've had four great seniors. One is sitting right next to me in Tanner Mathis, who had a tough beginning of the year. He played so well down the stretch in his final year."


The Lake Charles, La., native started all but one game over the the past three years and finished his career with a .326 batting average. He also ranks among the top 10 players in program history with 790 at-bats (7th), 103 walks (9th) and 164 runs scored (ninth).


"I had a great career," Mathis said. "Four great years here. I hit leadoff probably 85 percent of my career. And this is what I thought it would be. Coming to Ole Miss as a freshman not sure what to expect and ending it as a senior, it was everything I wanted my college baseball experience to be."


Mathis was drafted in the 27th round of the 2012 MLB Draft by the Houston Astros but turned down the offer in order to return for his senior season. He swung the bat well down the stretch as he reached base in each of the last 24 games and raised his average 59 points to finish the year with a .280 batting average.


In the Raleigh Regional, he was 6-for-12 with four runs scored. He led the team with 34 walks and 46 runs scored on the year, and ranked second with a .409 on-base percentage, while striking out just 18 times in 225 at-bats.


"He's held his head high," Bianco said of Mathis after Saturday's win against Binghamton. "A kid that comes back his senior year, it doesn't quite turn out the way he thought it was going to be, or how any of us thought it was going to be. 


"But certainly you tell how much better the offense when he's swinging and doing what he does best, and that's getting base hits and getting on base."


The other three graduating seniors on this year's team were impressive in their own right.

 

Pitcher Tanner Bailey was a regular out of the bullpen and finished with a 4-2 record, 2.74 ERA and .261 opponents' batting average in 42.2 innings. 


Third baseman Andrew Mistone was second on the team with a .317 batting average, a team-leading .330 in SEC play, and third on the team with 35 RBI.


Pitcher Brett Huber leaves as the school's all-time saves leader with 38. This year, he led all pitchers with a 1.54 ERA, to along with a 3-2 record, 12 saves and .181 opponents' batting average in 23.1 innings.


"They became some of my best friends," Mathis said of his senior teammates. "I have only known Mistone for two years, and Bailey for three. Me and Bailey actually lived together this year in a house, and me and Mistone roomed together almost every weekend. And knowing Brett for the four years I have been here, we've been through everything together."


Mathis also left with some words for the underclassmen who will return for the Rebels next year.


"And for the younger guys on the team, I just want them to soak it all in next year and remember this feeling next year whenever they're playing in a regional and super regional in Oxford," Mathis said.

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."

Anderson Swinging A Hot Bat

Austin Anderson missed out on a career 5-for-5 day, but finished 4-for-5 on the day, which tied his career high for hits. He also delivered a two-out, RBI single in the seventh to give Ole Miss a 4-2 lead, as the Rebels went on to win 8-4.


"He's been terrific," head coach Mike Bianco said. "And he's been as consistent as anybody the entire season. There have been games like this where he has been really hot, and he can carry us. But we need him. We need all of the bats."


The junior from Sorrento, Fla., is hitting .455 since the start of the LSU series, including 5-for-9 in the Raleigh Regional this weekend. In all, he is 15-for-33 in his last at-bats and now hitting at a .322 clip. He has also struck out just 13 times in 209 at-bats on the season.


"Coach B(ianco) just tells me to be aggressive," Anderson said. "I've seen the ball a little better as of late. It's just being aggressive and hitting the fastball early in the count. It's probably the best pitch you're going to see. Being aggressive and swinging early in the count."


He missed practice on Thursday with the stomach bug, but it didn't show on Saturday. He singled, then scored on an RBI single in the first. He doubled in the third, singled and stole a base in the fifth, then drove in a run with a single in the seventh. 


In his last plate appearance, in the eighth, he hit a ball hard at the Binghamton first baseman, which was ruled an error, but it scored two more runs to take the lead out to 8-2.


"You can't find the hole all the time," Anderson said. "I was just excited two runs got in on the error."


Anderson was one of five Rebels with multi-hit games to lead the 13-hit barrage, as Tanner Mathis went 2-for-4, Andrew Mistone was 2-for-5, Preston Overbey was 2-for-5 and Will Allen was 2-for-3.

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 Preview Raleigh Regional

No. 2 Ole Miss (37-22) vs. No. 3 William & Mary (37-22)

May 31 | 1 p.m. | Raleigh, N.C. | ESPN3

UM Jr. RHP Mike Mayers (5-5, 2.98 ERA) vs. W&M So. LHP Jason Inghram (8-6, 3.46 ERA)


Mayers gets the ball in game one: Head coach Mike Bianco announced Tuesday that junior right-hander Mike Mayers will get the ball in game one against William & Mary, then follow with junior right-hander Bobby Wahl in game two of the Raleigh Regional. 


"I don't think you really decide until the sites and brackets are announced and who you are going to play," head coach Mike Bianco said of the decision. "One of the things that we have said all week is the reason it's happening, It's not necessarily as much Bobby as it is Mike.


"Mike is as good as most guys' Friday night guy or ace. Having him makes the decision a lot easier because you have got to win the first game. So you have got to pitch a guy that can win you the first game, and we feel Mike is as good as most guys' Friday night guy and gives us a great opportunity to win on Friday."


Mayers enters the contest with a 5-5 record, 2.98 ERA and .231 opponents' batting average. He has 70 strikeouts against 31 walks in 87.2 innings of work. It will be his third career NCAA Tournament appearance, having made a start and relief appearance in the College Station Regional last year.


"Having Bobby in the rotation with me is a huge benefit to our team," Mayers said. "I enjoy the pressure, and obviously the bigger the game, the bigger the pressure. Right now, game one is the biggest game of the year."

 

Mayers will be opposed by William & Mary sophomore left-hander Jason Inghram. The 6-foot-3, 195-pounder earned third team All-CAA honors and enters the contest with a 8-6 record, 3.46 ERA and .242 opponents' batting average. He has 96 strikeouts against 23 walks in 96.1 innings of work. Ole Miss is 10-14 against left-handed starters on the year.


"We know we're facing a lefty," junior catcher Stuart Turner said. "We have faced a lot of them this year. We kind of struggled with them a little bit. We like facing them now. So many (teams) threw them at us. I think we have made the adjustment. We're going to be ready for it."


Turner makes big difference: Stuart Turner earned All-SEC and All-American honors this past week. He was named an All-SEC First Team and Defensive Team selection on Tuesday, then a second team All-America selection on Thursday.


He leads the team in batting average (.381), doubles (15), home runs (5), RBI (50), on-base percentage (.452) and slugging percentage (.433). His .381 average ranks second in the SEC, and defensively, he has thrown out 21-of-41 runners on steal attempts.


"He's a difference-maker, as we've talked about all year," Bianco said. "People see the numbers and the catcher, and the batting average, the RBI, and certainly he's a force in our lineup. But the reason he's a true difference-maker is defensively, he's as good as they come. 


"He's the best catch-and-throw guy that we have ever had. He's great with the pitchers, great receiver. He's going to block all the balls, of course. He can really get rid of the ball, very accurate, very strong arm and really defends the steal. To have that guy game in and game out for nine innings behind the plate has been a big difference for us."


This will be the first NCAA Tournament appearance for Turner, and he said it's been just a lot of excitement since the selection show Monday.


"You come here, you want to make a region, win a regional, play in a super regional, win a super regional," Turner said. "That selection show was the first time I had been through that. 


"Just to hear our name and hear where we're going, just to officially start the Road to Omaha, it's been a great ride so far. This regular season has been great. Ready to get it started now, and get ready to go to the postseason."


More from Turner here.


Fresh start for Bousfield: Sophomore center fielder Auston Bousfield is 1-for-32 in his most recent at-bats, dating back to game three of the Mississippi State series. Head coach Mike Bianco said the message to Bousfield has been to just stay positive.


"He's obviously had a tough couple of weeks," Bianco said. "But he's a guy that's our guy, a guy that's been there all year long. Baseball's a tough game. There are times where you don't feel good. There are times where you don't have success. And mentally, it can really cripple you. You just got to stay positive.


"One of the good things about this is there really is a break. A lot of times when you're slumping, you talk to kids and say, 'Hey, turn the page, act like you're batting .000 now, let's start over.' But you can really do that in the postseason. You can really start anew, regardless if you're a position player or a pitcher." 


Bousfield said he remains confident as he works on things, specifically shortening his swing, hitting the ball to the right and staying inside the ball.


"It's alright," Bousfield said of his confidence. "You really just got to keep playing for your team more than anything. The guys need me out there on defense. If I can't help with the bat, I always feel like I can help on defense. I got to keep working, and I'll get out of it eventually."


Bianco said Bousfield will be fine, noting his work in batting practice this week.


"This week, watching him take batting practice, he's looked terrific," Bianco said. "He swung it great today here on the field."


More from Bousfield here.


Other Notes And Quotes:


  • Junior shortstop Austin Anderson missed Thursday's practice after getting sick with a stomach virus overnight. Bianco said he would be "shocked" if he didn't play tomorrow.


  • "It would be a lot of fun, but first, we have to care of our game against William & Mary." -- Bobby Wahl, on possible matchup with North Carolina State left-hander Carlos Rodon


  • "I hope to see that. It will be a fun one, if it ends up happening." -- Carlos Rodon, on possible matchup with Bobby Wahl


  • "I wouldn't call it small. It's more true, especially down the lines. Even with the wind blowing in, (Tanner) Mathis and (Will) Jamison hit a ball out today... It's a little more fair for the hitters. It's not as big as our park, but not as small as some others, very average." -- Mike Bianco, on Doak Field's dimensions (320-370-400-380-330)


  • "It's going to be a good atmosphere. Last year, we had a great turnout at the Vanderbilt games. This year should be, hopefully, more. We'll see. We have got faithful Wolfpack fans out there. They're very active, very loud. You see them on the third-base line making noise, heckling a little bit, which I like, so we'll see how it goes." -- Rodon, on atmosphere for the Raleigh Regional

Rebels React To NCAA Tournament

The Ole Miss baseball team advanced to the NCAA Tournament on Monday when it was announced the Rebels would be the second seed and face third-seeded William & Mary at the Raleigh Regional hosted by North Carolina State on Friday. They will play at 1 p.m. CT in game one of the regional, and it can be watched on ESPN3. Ole Miss will then either face host and first-seeded North Carolina State or fourth-seeded Binghamton in the second game of the tournament on Saturday.


The Raleigh Regional is paired with the Eugene Regional with host and national No. 8 seed Oregon, second-seeded Rice, third-seeded San Francisco and fourth-seeded South Dakota State.


Complete Bracket


No. 1 North Carolina State


Location: Raleigh, N.C.

Nickname: Wolfpack

Conference: Atlantic Coast (ACC)

2013 Record: 44-14

2013 Conference Finish: 19-10/4th

Team Batting: .280 AVG / .365 OBP / .389 SLG / 6.4 runs/game

Team Pitching: 3.24 ERA / .218 B/AVG / 1.21 WHIP / 4.0 runs/game

Top Hitters: SS Trea Turner (.376 AVG, 6 HR, 40 RBI, 24-of-30 SB-ATT, .460 OBP, .567 SLG), OF Bryan Adametz (.320 AVG, 31 RBI), OF Jake Fincher (.317 AVG, 25 RBI, 14-of-18 SB-ATT)

Top Pitchers: LHP Carlos Rodon (8-2, 3.48 ERA, 151 Ks, .199 B/AVG), RHP Logan Jernigan (1-0, 1.07 ERA, .196 B/AVG), RHP Chris Overman (1-1, 0.39 ERA, 6 SV, .114 B/AVG)

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No. 2 Ole Miss


Location: Oxford, Miss.

Nickname: Rebels

Conference: Southeastern (SEC)

2013 Record: 37-22

2013 Conference Finish: 15-15/6th

Team Batting: .276 AVG / .358 OBP / .366 SLG / 5.1 runs/game

Team Pitching: 3.11 ERA / .244 B/AVG / 1.30 WHIP / 3.7 runs/game

Top Hitters: C Stuart Turner (.381 AVG, 5 HR, 50 RBI, .452 OBP, .533 SLG), 3B Andrew Mistone (.316 AVG, 34 RBI), SS Austin Anderson (.300 AVG, 38 RBI)

Top Pitchers: RHP Bobby Wahl (9-0, 1.99 ERA, 76 Ks, .189 B/AVG), RHP Mike Mayers (5-5, 2.98 ERA, 70 Ks, .231 B/AVG), RHP Brett Huber (3-2, 1.54 ERA, 12 SV, .181 B/AVG)

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No. 3 William & Mary


Location: Williamsburg, Va.

Nickname: Tribe

Conference: Colonial Athletic Association (CAA)

2013 Record: 37-22

2013 Conference Finish: 17-10/2nd

Team Batting: .296 AVG / .383 OBP / .378 SLG / 6.2 runs/game

Team Pitching: 4.16 ERA / .279 B/AVG / 1.35 WHIP/ 5.0 runs/game

Top Hitters: 1B Michael Katz (.365 AVG, 5 HR, 47 RBI, .453 OBP, .563 SLG), 2B Ryan Lindemuth (.363 AVG, 4 HR, 47 RBI), OF Ryan Brown (.328 AVG, 30 RBI, 21-of-26 SB-ATT)

Top Pitchers: RHP John Farrell (11-2, 2.80 ERA, 86 Ks, .259 B/AVG), RHP Brett Koehler (6-5, 4.44 ERA, 65 Ks, .321 B/AVG), LHP Matt Wainman (4-3, 3.90 ERA, 8 SV, .242 B/AVG)

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No. 4 Binghamton


Location: Vestal, N.Y.

Nickname: Bearcats

Conference: America East

2013 Record: 30-23

2013 Conference Finish: 16-13/2nd

Team Batting: .266 AVG / .358 OBP / .353 SLG / 5.1 runs/game

Team Pitching: 3.67 ERA / .259 B/AVG / 1.28 WHIP / 4.4 runs/game

Top Hitters: OF Jake Thomas (.382 AVG, 5 HR, 36 RBI, .528 OBP, .541 SLG, 2B Daniel Nevares (.314 AVG, 34 RBI), 3B David Schanz (.307 AVG)

Top Pitchers: RHP Jack Rogalla (5-4, 2.82 ERA, .252 B/AVG), RHP Jake Lambert (7-2, 2.95 ERA, 76 Ks, .263 B/AVG, RHP Anthony Grillini (4-0, 3.71 ERA, 3 SV, .230 B/AVG)

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