Typical Friday Night

Zach Kirksey had been using the long ball this season to make a difference for 12th-ranked Ole Miss. Friday night in a 2-1 Rebel win against Auburn to open the Southeastern Conference portion of the season, it was a mere single by the senior.

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His fourth-inning base hit right up the middle broke a 1-1 tie and scored freshman Auston Bousfield from second base. Bousfield had doubled to left, the ball actually hitting the top of the wall but not leaving the park, just before Kirksey's RBI single.

And that would end the scoring in this one.

Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said he's seen it many times before, a quality series opener in league play.

"A great college baseball game, a typical Friday night in the Southeastern Conference," said the 12th-year Rebel head coach after his team moved to 15-3 on the season. "This is why kids come to play in the SEC."

It's why Bobby Wahl did. The sophomore right-hander from Springfield, Va., moved to 4-0 on the season, pitching six innings and allowing one unearned run on six hits with six strikeouts and a walk.

"I felt pretty good actually; my arm felt pretty good tonight," Wahl said. "I wasn't locating as well as I could, but for the most part made some good pitches, and everything was down for the most part. The defense did a great job tonight."

There were some situations to work through. In the top of the second, Wahl had runners on first and third with one out and got the next two batters to pop up to Matt Snyder at first base, both in foul territory.

After a run was on the board in the third for Auburn with two outs, Wahl walked Cullen Wacker but he was soon caught stealing second on a throw by catcher Will Allen.

Ole Miss had scored in the second inning on an Allen single that got Snyder home after he'd been hit by a Derek Varnadore pitch. In that inning, Ole Miss could have broken the game open a bit but left the bases loaded.

In the sixth, a leadoff single by Ryan Tella got the Tigers going. But Wahl was able to get the next three batters out, and Dylan Chavez came in to relieve the Rebel starter.

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Chavez, making his first SEC appearance after transferring from junior college in California, was in a jam soon after taking the mound to start the seventh. There was one out and runners were on second and third after a wild pitch by Chavez.

But a mound visit and two strikeouts later, the last one with Creede Simpson taking all three pitches, and Chavez was out of it.

In the eighth inning, before Chavez gave way to Huber, the Tigers were down in order.

"I didn't feel like I had my best command of the year," Chavez said. "But I was able to battle through it. When we don't have our best stuff, we have to battle through it and make pitches."

Chavez said the mound visit in the seventh from Bianco was valuable.

"He was just calming me down," he said. "I was getting a little erratic and a little bit away from my form. He was just basically telling me to keep doing what I had been doing for four weeks. I'm glad he did that, because I was able to finish that inning."

Bianco said sometimes he has to remind his pitchers what got them to where they are at a particular point.

"One of the things we've harped on all year is you have to make quality pitches when the game's on the line," he said. "You have to make some pitches that are difference makers. Certainly he did that. He hung in there and made some pitches."

Huber, who got his fifth save of the season, was lights out in the ninth with a ground out and two strike outs.

"I thought Huber was as good as he's been all year," Bianco said. "Tonight he looked really sharp."

Auburn, now 10-8, actually got more hits – eight – than the Rebels, who had five. Tiger starter Varnadore (1-2) was saddled with the loss.

"We got a couple of guys in," Bianco said of the difference in the outcome. "It was one of those games that was dominated by pitchers, and we made one more at-bat than them, or one more pitch than them. Terrific game by both teams."

The Rebels and Tigers play again Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Right-hander R.J. Hively (3-0, 2.08 ERA) is the scheduled starter for Ole Miss, while left-hander Will Kendall (2-0, 0.00) is set to go for Auburn.

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