Just Good Enough

Mike Bianco wasn't all that pleased with how his team won its first home game of the season.

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He was glad to get the victory but believes his team can play better than it did in a 6-0 win against Tennessee-Martin.

"Nice to win but just disappointed we didn't play very well," Bianco said after his team improved to 4-0 on the young season. "We certainly didn't play anywhere close to where we did this past weekend."

His thoughts on why?

"I thought we looked a little nervous," he said. "It's one of the things you worry about at the beginning of the season. We challenged the guys to not play like we played tonight. This weekend we didn't. We swung freely and looked aggressive on the mound. Today we looked more tentative at the plate."

He wasn't necessarily too pleased with the pitchers overall either.

"On the mound we just weren't sharp," he said. "Not super sharp."

In the first inning, starter Jacob Waguespack walked two batters and gave up a base hit to load the bases with one out. But a double play that had shortstop Errol Robinson touch second base and throw to first baseman Sikes Orvis to end the threat was big for the Rebels and to get the defense started on the right foot.

"Errol's going to make big plays for us like that over his career," Bianco said. "He catches the ball with a lot of confidence and makes it look real easy."

Ole Miss scored four runs in the eighth inning to seal it. Before that, the Rebels held a precarious lead for seven innings against the outmanned Skyhawks, who had gotten a solid performance out of starting pitcher Alex Boshers.

The Rebels scored first on a wild pitch off Boshers in the bottom of the third inning. A two-out Dalton Dulin single to center field got things going. Braxton Lee walked, and Auston Bousfield was hit by a pitch. The wild pitch got Dulin home for the run.

In the bottom of the seventh with reliever John Skubina on the mound, Lee reached on a base hit. After he stole second, Bousfield bunted perfectly down the third base line to put runners at the corners. After Anderson walked to load the bases, the Skyhawks changed pitchers for the fourth time, bringing in Chris Ross who immediately got Will Allen to fly out to shallow right field. The runners could not advance.

Errol Robinson
Bruce Newman

With one down and the bases still loaded, Lee came home on a balk call on Ross. That would be all the Rebels got in the inning for a 2-0 lead after seven complete.

A four-run eighth inning finished off the visitors.

Bianco said before the game he was going to use several pitchers and did. Waguespack went four innings, while Preston Tarkington, Evan Anderson, Austin Blunt, Scott Weathersby, and Jeremy Massie each went an inning.

"(Jacob) really didn't have it tonight," Bianco said after the sophomore righty allowed no runs on two hits with three walks and two strikeouts. "He's a guy with a big fastball because of his stature. He was able to lock back in but he really wasn't able to get anything but the fast ball into the strike zone. He really relied on the fastball and that was enough.

"Proud of him that in his first start he gets the bases loaded and was able to induce a double play. There are some positives to pull from this game, and that was one of him. He made the pitch to get out of it and he hung in there. He's been better and he will be better. It's in him."

"I left a few balls up in the zone early," Waguespack said. "Guys making plays behind me helped. The double play and also a pickoff helped. There were some nerves in the beginning. I just had to settle down and make pitches."

Both starters figured in the decision as Waguespack got the win and Boshers the loss.

The Rebels had at least three balls hit deep that nearly left the park or were good defensive plays made by the Skyhawk left fielder Chase Young. Those were early and might have made a difference in the way it unfolded but obviously not the outcome.

Bianco, who had preached toughness and aggressiveness all fall and preseason, didn't see enough of that in this one.

"It's hard to do much without baserunners. It's hard to get baserunners without being aggressive," he said.

"The goal wasn't just to be 4-0. The goal was also to play well. And tonight we didn't play well."

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