Searching For Heroes

Ole Miss and Kentucky were tied 1-1 heading to the bottom of the eighth inning Friday night. That's when the Rebels found enough offense to get a 3-2 win.

Matt Tracy and Will Allen had back to back RBI singles after Blake Newalu had doubled and Matt Smith had walked. The two hits by Tracy and Allen came immediately after Mike Kaczmarek had replaced Kentucky ace Alex Meyer.

Meyer had gone 7.1 innings, struck out seven and walked three. But it was the start of the eighth that did him in. And the first two batters with Kaczmarek on the hill did the Wildcats in.

"We made some plays at the right time, some great at-bats, some pitches, some plays defensively," said Ole Miss Coach Mike Bianco. "The thing that we did that we haven't been able to do the last couple of weeks, we needed several heroes. Certainly there were a ton of them tonight."

Bobby Wahl was one. The freshman right-hander, moved to a closer role since the injury to Jake Morgan, came in for Brett Huber to start the ninth, and got his first save of the campaign.

It wasn't beautiful. Three hits by Wildcats, all that dropped in front of Rebel defenders and all with two outs, made things a bit shaky. One run even scored. But Wahl was able to get Taylor Black to fly out to nearly the warning track in left to end it.

"I was definitely excited to get out there in the ninth," said Wahl, who also had an early-season arm injury and hasn't pitched as much as projected. "It was real fun there for a while. Just gotta gut it out sometimes."

Matt Tracy
Bruce Newman
That he did and said he wasn't uncomfortable out there when things got a little out of kilter.

"I wasn't really nervous. Sometimes those things happen," he said. "I just tried, like I said, to gut it out and do the best I could."

The Rebels had three hits early in the game but nothing to show for it. UK got on the board with one swing of the bat, its first hit of the contest. In the third inning, Michael Williams sent a solo blast into the left field terrace.

With Meyer on the mound, that potentially could have been enough. But Ole Miss was able to tie it up 1-1 when Kentucky third baseman Thomas McCarthy dropped a popup by Matt Snyder just onto the outfield grass. With two outs prior to that, the Wildcats appeared to be getting out of the inning. But the error allowed Newalu to score all the way from second base.

Things stayed that way until the Rebel eighth when Ole Miss got enough runs to win it.

Starter Matt Crouse went six innings, allowing a run on six hits with two walks and a strikeout. Eric Callender relieved him and went 1.1 innings allowing just a hit. Huber made a brief appearance of two-thirds of an inning with a strikeout. Then in came Wahl.

Huber (2-0) got the win even with his short stay, while Meyer (3-5) got the loss.

With the three hits in the ninth off Wahl, Kentucky had 10 hits to the Rebels' nine in the game.

"I talked to the kids before the game that we needed some heroes," Bianco said. "We challenged them. We needed guys to step up and get the big hits, to make the play in the field, to make the pitch when the game is on the line. Look throughout the game, and you'll see that."

Game two between Ole Miss and Kentucky is at 4 p.m. Saturday.

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