By Brent Zwerneman
Special to the Journal
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Mike Bianco knows the most important part of the Ole Miss schedule is dead ahead in the postseason.
Still, Bianco allowed himself just a bit of sentiment after the rugged Rebels clinched at least a share of the SEC West division title on Friday night, and heartily celebrated in the right field of the SEC’s westernmost locale.
“It’s neat – we haven’t won a championship here in five years,” Bianco said following the Rebels’ 4-2 victory over Texas A&M before 4,595 fans in Blue Bell Park. “These guys deserve it, and I’m glad they won it on their terms. They’ve had a great year to this point – now we just need to continue to play.”
Through two games in Aggieland, Ole Miss (40-15, 19-10 SEC) already has earned retribution for losing two of three to the Aggies (32-23, 13-16) last season in Oxford. All that’s left for the Rebels? One-upping A&M in today’s series finale that starts at 2 p.m.
“It’s great to play good baseball at this time of the year,” said Scott Weathersby, who allowed the Aggies a lone hit over four innings in relief of Christian Trent (8-0).
A day earlier, the Rebels erased a 2-0 deficit with a six-run fifth inning in an eventual 8-4 victory. This time, Ole Miss trailed 2-1 before scoring two in the sixth on a J.B. Woodman RBI triple, and a Will Jamison sacrifice fly to center.
A key play of the game occurred in the bottom of the eighth, when A&M’s Logan Nottebrok dropped a double along the right-field line with one out.
Right-fielder Will Jamison picked up the ball in foul territory and after he started to throw toward second, noticed Nottebrok racing for third.
Jamison pumped a throw toward second, turned and fired a strike to third baseman Austin Anderson. A sliding Nottebrok was first called safe by third-base umpire Greg Street, but Nottebrok had slid a bit past the bag and Anderson adroitly kept the tag on. Street changed his call and Ole Miss had escaped trouble again on a foreign field.
“We’ve built a brotherhood this season, and it was great to clinch the West title on our terms,” a proud Weathersby said. “Not by someone else losing, but by us going out and getting it. That’s what ‘Coach B’ talks about all the time – it’s not going to be given to you in this league.”
The Rebels added a run in the ninth on a sacrifice fly by Auston Bousfield, in giving Weathersby a bit of breathing room in closing out the Aggies.
“We don’t back down – we’re constantly fighting,” Weathersby said. “You saw that in the ninth inning, we wanted one more run.”