By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Ole Miss set sail into friendly seas with three runs in the first inning Saturday, but by the time the bottom of the ninth rolled around the Rebels needed their new closer to plug the leaks.
The Rebels led 12-3 after six innings, but Kentucky shaved seven runs off that deficit and had the go-ahead run at first base in the top of the ninth when freshman Bobby Wahl got leadoff hitter Chad Wright to fly out and secure a 12-10 win for Ole Miss.
An announced Swayze Field crowd of 9,493 watched Wahl set down the first two batters before running into trouble with two hits and a walk, but he pitched a scoreless ninth for his second save.
His first save came on Friday when he also had three runners on base but pitched a scoreless ninth in a 3-2 Rebels’ win.
Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said sooner or later Wahl, pressed into this new role by the absence of Jake Morgan, would have to pitch on back-to-back days.
“I was anxious to see how he would respond. If he’s going to be the closer he’s going to have to do that,” Bianco said. “We never asked him how he felt. He looked like he was going to win the game the whole time.”
The Rebels (22-14, 7-7 SEC) scored in each of the first six innings, but Kentucky (17-19, 2-12) scored seven runs over the seventh and eighth innings against three different Ole Miss pitchers.
Four runs were charged to starter David Goforth in the seventh inning. He finished with seven runs allowed, six earned, over a 62⁄3 inning performance.
Freshman Mike Mayers, the third pitcher, was able to get out of the eighth and hand Wahl a two-run lead for the ninth.
Both teams had 14 hits, and the Wildcats committed four errors to the Rebels’ three.
For Ole Miss, Tanner Mathis had three hits; Matt Smith and Matt Tracy had three RBIs each; and Matt Snyder came off the bench for two hits.
It might all have been for naught had Wahl not gotten Wright to lift a fly ball to Tracy in left.
Wahl was ahead in the count on five of the six batters he faced, throwing his fastballs and breaking pitches for strikes.