OXFORD, Miss. – Brett Huber became the career saves leader at Ole Miss on Friday night, closing out the ninth inning as No. 14 Ole Miss (1-0) shut out No. 12 TCU (0-1) by a score of 1-0 to open the weekend series and the 2013 season.
With one out on the board, a one-run lead and the bases loaded in the ninth TCU sent Kevin Daniels to the plate to pinch hit. Daniels connected and sent the ball to the right side of the infield where Sikes Orvis scooped the ball and threw to second for the out on the lead runner, Dylan Fitzgerald.
Lance Wilson snagged the throw from Orvis and went to throw to first when Fitzgerald slid and was called for interference, putting the third out on the board and clinching the shutout win for the Rebels.
Bobby Wahl (1-0) picked up the win, working 6.1 scoreless innings with three walks and eight strikeouts. He allowed only three hits on the afternoon.
Brandon Finnegan (0-1) took the loss as he allowed one unearned run through 6.0 innings of work with two walks and four strikeouts. Ole Miss tallied five hits off Finnegan in the outing.
“It looked like a Friday night in the SEC tonight,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “We had two aces really battling it out. Bobby (Wahl) was sensational tonight. (Brandon) Finnegan really matched him pitch for pitch. He’s a tough guy to face to start the season. We were able to manufacture a run. Sikes (Orvis) had a great at bat and base running. I’m proud of (Brett) Huber for hanging in there. You come out there to save the game, and you throw the ball in the strike zone like you’re supposed to. He shows why he is the all-time saves leader.”
TCU threatened early with a double to open the game and put a second man on with a one-out walk, but Wahl responded with back-to-back strikeouts to squelch the rally. Both pitchers quickly found a groove and its came at a premium for the whole night and both teams managed only three base runners through the first four innings of play.
The fifth inning saw fortunes change, as Orvis reached on a single up the middle to lead things off before taking second on a groundout to third from Andrew Mistone. A passed ball advanced Orvis to third before he came home to score when Will Jamison put down a squeeze bunt to put the Rebels the board.
TCU looked to make a move in the next half inning, getting a lead-off single to left to start the sixth, but a double play ended any hope of a rally and the Rebels held on to the lead.
Ole Miss would threaten again in the bottom half of the sixth, loading the bases with one out, only to have Finnegan work out of the jam and keep the score at 1-0 in favor of the home team.
Neither team would threaten again until the Horned Frogs loaded the bases in the ninth inning with an error, a bunt single and an intentional walk before Ole Miss got out of the jam and seized the win.
The two teams will face-off again at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field.
Read more in Saturday’s NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.