By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – When Mike Bianco visited with Mr and Mrs. Wahl about the ways their son Bobby could help Ole Miss baseball it’s safe to assume that base-running was far down the list.
That’s where Wahl was needed on Sunday, though, with a series win against No. 1 Florida hanging in the balance.
Wahl, after handcuffing the Gators with eight scoreless innings in a 3-2 win Friday night, raced home from third on a ground ball in the bottom of the ninth from Senquez Golson to rally the Rebels to a 7-6 win on Sunday before 8,616 fans at Swayze Field.
Alex Yarbrough went 4 for 5 with three RBIs and two runs scored, and No. 16 Ole Miss rallied against Austin Maddox, the Gators’ highly successful closer, to defeat the No. 1 team in a three-game series for a second-straight season. Ole Miss won two of three against No. 1 South Carolina at Swayze Field last year.
“When I was sliding in I saw the ball go past me. It was one of those weird feelings. I just scored the winning run when I haven’t put a helmet on since high school,” said Wahl, who had to hurry into his jersey, not only his spikes.
For Golson, it was a million-dollar moment after turning down big money from the Red Sox to pursue college football. His role with the baseball team has been an on-going discussion between Bianco and football coach Hugh Freeze while spring football is under way.
But with both coaches making moves, Golson was needed in left field. He showed his speed by gloving a ball from Florida’s Casey Turgeon to take away a Gators’ hit to lead off the ninth.
The Rebels got cooking in the ninth when Will Allen, a Gainesville, Fla., native, blooped a single into shallow center, and Bianco put Wahl in as the runner.
Preston Overbey followed with a basehit to left-center, and Wahl reached third.
After an intentional walk to Zach Kirksey – the second of the game for a guy who homered as part of a three-run third for the Rebels – Golson was at the plate.
Golson started the season red-hot but hasn’t hit safely since March 10 against Houston. He didn’t get all of the offering from Maddox, but the throw home from first baseman Taylor Gushue was off the mark.
“The truth of the matter is, it’s better that he hit it that bad. It’s better that he hit it off the end of the bat. I don’t mean that sarcastically, but it was slower, it had a lot of spin, and I’m sure that’s why Tucker struggled, because he’s a good player,” Bianco said.
When Golson got in the box he faced Maddox and five infielders, Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan opting for a two-man outfield at that point. Golson had a 1-2 count when he drove home Wahl.
Maddox, a right-hander against the right-handed hitting Golson, began the day with a 2.28 ERA and eight saves. Opponents were hitting .188 against him.
The Rebels (20-8, 5-4 SEC) chased Florida starter Jonathon Crawford after 12/3 innings and a 5-0 lead.
The Gators got four runs in the fourth, knocking out Ole Miss sophomore Mike Mayers, who had a perfect game going through three innings.
Down 5-4, the Gators (24-4, 6-3) tied the game with Nolan Fontana’s solo home run to lead off the top of the sixth against Ole Miss reliever Aaron Greenwood, then took the lead with Tucker’s one-out home run in the seventh, the first batter faced by Dylan Chavez.
The Rebels tied the game in the seventh when Matt Snyder’s double scored Yarbrough, who led a 14-hit attack.
Greenwood absorbed four hits and a walk but allowed only one run in 22/3 innings, and Brett Huber finished the game with two hitless, scoreless innings.