By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – One of the realities of athletic competition is the small window of time to celebrate the biggest successes.
Take Ole Miss left fielder Tanner Mathis, for instance.
“Me and (Austin) Anderson were sitting around (Sunday) night, and we’re like, ‘Dude, we just beat Florida.’ It’s a good feeling, but we’ve got to move on.”
Before moving on the Rebels enjoyed the fruits that go along with beating No. 1.
Sophomore right-hander Bobby Wahl – who went eight innings on Friday and scored the winning run on Sunday – was named SEC Pitcher of the Week, and the Rebels (20-8) jumped six spots to No. 10 in the latest release of the Baseball America Top 25.
Moving on for the Rebels means getting back in the box tonight at 6:30 at Trustmark Park in Pearl against an in-state rival that thoroughly dominated them just two weeks ago.
Four Southern Mississippi pitchers combined to limit the Rebels to three hits, while the Golden Eagles cranked out 17 of their own in a 10-0 win.
Southern Miss surged ahead with a three-run fourth inning, and the Golden Eagles bullpen went 41/3 innings with one hit and a walk. Ole Miss, which had an errorless weekend against Florida, committed three errors against Southern Miss.
“Nothing went right for us, and everything went right for them. They hit the ball, they ran. It seemed like they got the big hits, little bleeders and bloopers fell in for them. Everything happened for them, and nothing happened for us,” Mathis said.
Southern Miss (16-12) enters tonight’s game after losing two-of-three to No. 9 Rice in a Conference USA series.
Freshman right-hander Sam Smith (1-2, 4.32) will pitch for Ole Miss tonight. He went four innings in the first meeting with eight hits and four runs, though just one run was earned.
Sophomore righty Boomer Scarborough (1-0, 2.54) gets the start for Southern Miss.
The Southern Miss loss came at a time between the Auburn and Alabama SEC series in which the Rebels hit just .182 over a four-game stretch.
In winning twice against Florida, the Rebels hit .299 and rallied in the ninth on Sunday with two hits against SEC saves leader Austin Maddox.
“Seemed like on the Sunday against Alabama, we got a little aggravated, a little fired up and said, ‘This ain’t us.’ Our swings from the sixth or seventh inning on in that Sunday game at Alabama have been completely different,” Mathis said.
One of the keys to tonight’s game – and to this weekend’s series against No. 8 Kentucky – might be just how well the Rebels have moved on.
“You’ve come off this big weekend and gotten a lot of pats on the back. Can you refocus and get back into the game tomorrow?” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco asked.
If they move on successfully the bigger question might be how can you make beating the No. 1 team have long-lasting implications?
“Ultimately, that might be the biggest thing. It’s impossible to answer now, but you might look back and say, ‘Hey, that’s where they grew up a lot,’ or ‘That’s where things started to turn for them.’ The fact of the matter is, we haven’t played that poorly,” Bianco said.