RALEIGH, N.C. – Stuart Turner thought he got off a better swing on the game’s last pitch.
A home run in a hitter’s park would have been a walk-off game winner, but Turner was just off the mark.
The Rebels never did find the mark, going 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position. That and six walks from Mike Mayers – four of them in a disastrous four-run fifth inning – were too much to overcome and No. 3 seed William and Mary dropped No. 2 seed Ole Miss into the Raleigh Regional loser’s bracket in a 4-2 Rebels loss before 2,735 fans at Doak Field Friday afternoon.
The Rebels will face No. 4 seed Binghamton in an elimination game at 1 p.m. CST today, a game that will now feature Ole Miss ace Bobby Wahl.
Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco says Mayers’ body of work made it a relatively easy decision to hold Wahl for what would have been a matchup against top seed North Carolina State and its left-hander Carlos Rodon, the nation’s strikeout leader.
“It had nothing to do with William & Mary and everything to do with the guy sitting next to me,” said Bianco, with Mayers and Turner seated next to him. “If you don’t have a guy you think can win the game, it’s a much harder decision.”
Mayers had 31 walks in 872⁄3 innings going into the game. His control was not impressive early, but he seemed to collect himself in the third and fourth innings.
Just before the wheels came off in the fifth the Rebels (37-23) missed a chance to score first. Ole Miss had runners at the corners with one out when Turner was caught in a rundown between third and home after William & Mary pitcher Jason Inghram fielded a bunt from Auston Bousfield.
Preston Overbey made it around to third, Bousfield to second, but Will Allen popped up in foul territory to end the threat.
The Tribe’s (38-22) decisive inning included four walks from Mayers sandwiched between two errors from Andrew Mistone.
Inghram, a left-hander, went eight innings and scattered eight hits. He was relieved by another left-hander. The Rebels had nine hits on the day, five of them by left-handed batters, three from Tanner Mathis.
Inghram contradicted his Friday statement when he said the Rebels’ inconsistency against left-handed pitchers was completely unknown to him.
“I was aware of that, but you can’t change your approach too much based on that kind of thing,” he said. “You have to approach it the same way.”
The Tribe had already recorded two outs in the ninth when Mathis and Austin Anderson reached. That set up drama with Turner, the Rebels’ best hitter, but his fly ball to left didn’t challenge the outer reaches of the park.
“I thought I got it pretty good,” Turner said. “Right there you want to hit a line drive into the gap. I guess I just hit it into the wind too much.”
Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal