By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – The topic for Mike Bianco at his next clinic speaking invitation may very well be baserunning.
The Ole Miss coach called his players together and quickly reminded them of the most important elements of the art in the 11th inning Sunday afternoon.
Auston Bousfield had just gotten picked off at second base in the eighth. He had he remained, he’d have been the winning run then.
Instead it took a basehit from struggling Tanner Mathis to drive home Tuscaloosa native Lance Wilson, a pinch-runner, with the game-winner as the Rebels completed a sweep of the Crimson Tide with a 4-3 win before a Swayze Field crowd of 7,310.
Three weekend wins put the Rebels at 26-10 overall, 7-8 in league play and in sole possession of fourth place a game back of Mississippi State.
“It wasn’t our best game. We made some mistakes and didn’t execute on a few things, but man, did they play hard today,” Bianco said.
With Ole Miss trailing 3-2 Bousfield drew a one-out walk in the eighth inning and moved to second on a bloop single by pinch-hitter Holt Perdzock.
Perdzock’s run only tied the game when Andrew Mistone singled into centerfield.
When later baserunning opportunities presented themselves, Bianco made sure his players took nothing for granted.
“He laid out everything in about 15 seconds. If I’d had a recording it would be good to keep,” Wilson said.
Wilson was running for Sikes Orvis who led off the 11th with a single. Cameron Dishon reached on a bunt single, and Preston Overbey walked to load the bases.
After Will Jamison struck out, Mathis, who batting average was dipping close to .210, drove a pitch from Alabama reliever Ray Castillo over the drawn-in outfield. It was the second hit of the day for Mathis, a senior who hit .359 last season.
The Crimson Tide (22-16, 8-7) had scored only two runs over the first 24 innings of the series before it put across two runs in the eighth to lead 3-2.
Ole Miss led 2-0 through first six innings after getting two runs on three hits in the first.
Wilson wasn’t the Rebels’ only Alabama native to figure prominently. Right-handed reliever Chris Ellis went 21⁄3 innings, his biggest out coming in the bottom of the fifth when he relieved Sam Smith with two outs and runners at second third. Ellis coerced a pop-up to get out of the mess.
Bianco used seven pitchers.
Growing up in the shadow of the university, Wilson’s winning run carried extra special meaning.
“It’s unbelievable, especially Saturday’s game when all these people were here. It’s full support. That’s why we come to play. That’s why we love Ole Miss so much,” he said.
Ole Miss plays Memphis tonight at AutoZone Park.