By Parrish Alford
OXFORD – Ole Miss had hopes of winning its sixth SEC series and taking another important step toward possible postseason baseball at home, but Georgia freshman Robert Tyler said, “Not on my watch.”
The Bulldogs’ right-hander limited the SEC’s top hitting team to three hits and went the distance in a 2-0 shutout before 8,158 fans at Swayze Field Saturday.
The Rebels (36-15, 16-10 SEC) will get a second chance at that series win today at 1:30. On Saturday, they never reached third base. Their best chance at a run came early, and it was squandered.
Braxton Lee led off the bottom of the first with a double. Auston Bousfield’s sacrifice bunt was hard and fielded quickly by Roberts to his right. Roberts then had plenty of time to get Lee at third as he was breaking on the pitch.
Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said the call gave Bousfield, who went into the game hitting .371, flexibility at the plate.
“It was a signal given that we want him to move the runner up. He’s got the option to bunt,” Bianco said. “He felt he could get it down. We could be really critical about that, but we’re critical, because it didn’t work. We’ve bunted many times this year and had success. Sometimes you steal and get thrown out. Sometimes you bunt, and (they) get the lead runner.”
Tyler hit a batter – Bousfield to start the ninth – but walked none and struck out four. He had pitched into the eighth inning in an SEC game twice but not since the end of March.
Ole Miss never put pressure on him to cut short his game. Tyler’s pitch count was in the 80s to start the bottom of the eighth when his teammates finally pushed across the game’s first run.
The Bulldogs (25-24-1, 10-15-1 SEC) got a leadoff infield hit from Conor Welton, bunted him to second and advanced him to third on a ground ball. He scored easily when Daniel Nichols pulled an Aaron Greenwood pitch to right field.
Escaped a jam
Greenwood came on in the seventh with two outs and the bases loaded and stranded three with a swinging strikeout of leadoff hitter Stephen Wrenn, whose first two strikes were fouled bunt attempts.
Welton’s two-out RBI hit in the eighth made it 2-0.
After he hit Bousfield in the ninth, Tyler retired the heart of the Rebels’ lineup – Austin Anderson, Will Allen and Sikes Orvis – in order.
“He’s got a great arm. He had a really good change-up and threw the curve in there when he needed to. We weren’t able to do much with him,” Bousfield said.