By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – If you asked Bobby Wahl why his Ole Miss teammates seemed to score so few runs when he pitched, the answer would very likely be “that’s baseball,” or some variation.
A big inning is also a part of baseball, and when the Rebels delivered one in the eighth inning on Friday in the College Station Regional, it made Wahl a winner for just the second time since his eight shutout innings against then-No. 1 Florida on March 30.
In Wahl’s five most recent starts leading into NCAA tournament play the Rebels had scored just seven runs and been shut out three times. Wahl had pitched at least six innings in each of those starts, seven innings or more three times and had not given up more than two earned runs in any of them.
Wahl produced another quality outing, although it took him a little bit to get into a groove. When he did, he lasted seven innings, giving up only two hits over the last six after TCU pushed across a run on two hits in the first.
Wahl walked none and struck out nine.
“The biggest thing was going out there in the first inning I tried to do too much, tried to make that one pitch that makes all three outs. It doesn’t work that way. After that first inning I really settled into myself and realized you’ve got to make quality pitches and let the defense work for you,” he said.
Wahl gave up a leadoff single in the top of the first to TCU’s Kyle Von Tungeln. The second hit was a bloop by Josh Elander, but with Von Tungeln moving it was enough to get him to third base. He scored easily on a ground ball by designated hitter Kevin Cronn.
Cronn would be heard from later. He wasn’t cheated in the fourth inning when he turned on a Wahl fastball and sent it well behind the left field wall for a 2-0 lead.
It was the first inning, though, in which TCU had a chance to really pile on after the first start.
Elander moved to second on Cronn’s ground ball. The Horned Frogs had two chances to get a second run then but Wahl escaped further damage with a pop-up from cleanup hitter Jantzen Witte and a ground ball from the next man up, Derek Odell.
Wahl worked ahead in counts and had good control of all his pitches, especially his fastball.
“Bobby gave us a great effort,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “He really had an electric fastball, and we stuck with it a lot.”