By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Ole Miss starter Bobby Wahl pitched six scoreless innings after giving up a solo home run in the first, but No. 24 Kentucky rallied in the eighth against the Rebels’ bullpen to take a 3-2 win in Game 1 of their SEC series Thursday night.
A Swayze Field announced crowd of 7,898 saw the 18th-ranked Rebels’ six-game SEC win streak come to an end while Kentucky snapped a seven-game losing streak.
Game 2 is tonight at 6:30.
The Rebels lost for the first time in 25 games when leading after seven innings.
An Ole Miss offense that had some clutch at-bats in its recent SEC streak was just 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position including Sikes Orvis who struck out in a pinch-hit appearance after a two-out double by Andrew Mistone in the eighth.
Kentucky left-hander A.J. Reed kept Ole Miss off the board until the seventh.
“He was putting his fastball where he wanted to, and it had some run on it, and he was spotting up with his curve ball,” Ole Miss left fielder Tanner Mathis said.
Whal had not given up an earned run in his last 212⁄3 innings going back to the Florida game. A first-inning solo home run to Austin Cousino was the only run he allowed to Kentucky (25-16, 8-11 SEC).
The Rebels (30-13, 10-9 SEC) scratched out a couple of runs in the seventh, both charged to Reed, and were down to six outs with a lead to protect.
But the bullpen was not up to the task.
Aaron Greenwood replaced Wahl to start the top of the eighth and gave up a leadoff double to eight-hole hitter Matt Reida.
That was followed with a walk and a basehit to load the bases.
Greenwood left for Matt Denny, the freshman left-hander who induced two ground-ball outs, but two runs scored in the process.
Greenwood had also been strong of late, having not allowed an SEC earned run in his last 142⁄3 innings.
“Aaron had no command with his off-speed. I think he was 0-for-6 with sliders,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “That’s uncharacteristic of him. He’s usually able to throw any pitch into the strike zone at any time. That’s what makes him so effective.”
He got of the hook for what could have been his first loss of the season when pinch-runner Cameron Dishon scored from on Tanner Mathis’ infield hit. Two runners were moving on the 3-2 pitch with two outs from Kentucky reliever Chandler Shepherd.
With a lead to protect a second time Shepherd survived Mistone’s double by fanning Orvis.