By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
NASHVILLE – Bobby Wahl didn’t give Vanderbilt too many chances on the bases, but it turns out the Commodores didn’t need that many.
With three stolen bases, and a costly error, the Commodores built a three-run lead, and that was more than enough offense for right-hander T.J. Pecoraro, who went the distance in a 3-0 five-hitter before a crowd of 2,493 at Hawkins Field Thursday night.
Game 2 is tonight at 6:30.
No. 25 Ole Miss (34-20, 14-14 SEC) hasn’t been swept in a conference series, and needs one win to guarantee a break-even regular season in SEC play.
Vanderbilt (27-25, 14-14) has to make sure it finishes above .500 overall to be eligible for the NCAA tournament.
The Commodores had just three hits off Wahl but had stolen bases in the fourth and sixth innings, both of them coming around to score.
The Rebels’ best chance to score was in the sixth when they put runners at the corners with 1 out, but Tanner Mathis was thrown out at home trying to score on Matt Snyder’s fly ball to left field. It wasn’t particularly deep.
Prior to Snyder’s fly ball, Alex Yarbrough reached on an error at short to give the Rebels runners at the corners with one out.
It was the only time that Ole Miss reached third base.
“It was disappointing,” Rebels coach Mike Bianco said. “You get a leadoff double, you bunt him over, do what you’re supposed to do, and we don’t get him in. That’s not being critical of Yarbs and Snyder. They’re the best three- and four-hole guys in the country. But in this game, you need them. You need Bobby Wahl to be as good as he was and maybe better.”
Wahl carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning but trailed nonetheless. Mike Yastrzemski walked with one out in the fourth. He stole second and was credited with a steal of third, though a throw from shortstop Blake Newalu got past Andrew Mistone at third when Yastrzemski was caught in a rundown. He scored on a ground ball.
The Commodores got three hits in the sixth and, combined with an error on Newalu, scored twice.
It was a 3-0 game, a daunting deficit with the Rebels’ limited opportunities on base.
Wahl went 71/3 innings, his third straight start of at least seven innings. He allowed two earned runs on three hits, walked two and struck out five.
“The biggest thing was I didn’t come back and make enough pitches that (sixth) inning. I gave up a couple of singles, and they took advantage of it. They stole bases, and when I walked a guy, they took advantage of it,” Wahl said. “They played pretty well tonight.”