Squeezing Out A Win

A two-run bottom of the seventh inning with a single from Dalton Dulin and a squeeze bunt from Braxton Lee provided just enough late scoring for Ole Miss to eek out a 4-3 win against Arkansas State Wednesday night in Oxford.

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Close wins are nothing new for this team. The Rebels' record in one-run games is 7-1, the lone loss at South Carolina 5-4 in 10 innings.

Though it was a victory, Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco was not pleased with the Rebels' effort in the midweek contest.

"It looked like they wanted to play a lot more than we did tonight, and that's disappointing," Bianco said. "I thought they had some great at-bats earlyon against (Jeremy) Massie. He can usually make you look uncomfortable up there and off balance. But that wasn't happening tonight. They got off a lot of good swings off, a lot of hits. Same as when (Cheyne) Bickel came in."

But Bianco said Scott Weathersby provided the "shot in the arm" his team needed.

Weathersby came in for reliever Bickel and went 2.1 innings to keep the Rebels within striking distance after the Red Wolves had taken a 3-1 lead. The junior from Oak Grove High School (1-0) picked up the win in relief with a career-high five strikeouts and didn't allow a hit or a walk. Josh Laxer picked up his second save of the season working the ninth to preserve the win.

"He helped us really kind of take control of the game again, the momentum back in our dugout," Bianco said of Weathersby. "Bigtime performance by him. Really proud of him. Came at the right time."

Hawtin Buchanan pitched the eighth inning with two strikeouts.

Starter Massie had gone 3.2 innings and allowed two runs, one earned, on four hits with two strikeouts and two walks.

Hawtin Buchanan
Bruce Newman

Ole Miss had trouble mounting any offense off Red Wolves starter Tanner Gaines. The Baldwyn native went five innings plus, allowing two earned runs on three hits with three strikeouts and three walks.

"He had a good curve ball. It was giving the righties trouble," Lee said. "He had a pretty good split finger or changeup. We really didn't know which one it was. I think that was confusing some people, too. He was just doing what he was supposed to do, and we weren't getting the hits like we needed."

But it was the seventh off ASU reliever Colton Kibler when Ole Miss finally got in position to get the lead again. J.B. Woodman singled and Errol Robinson sac bunted him to second. Dalton Dulin singled to score Woodman, and Auston Bousfield singled to put runners at the corner.

That's when Lee bunted and the speedy Dulin raced home for the go-ahead run.

"Braxton handles the bat so well," Bianco said. "We were thinking about push bunting or squeezing. I liked the squeeze. We had the right people in the game – Bousfield at first, Dulin at third, and Lee at the plate. Great play by Lee getting it down."

ASU changed pitchers just before Lee came to the plate. The junior left fielder said it was the perfect pitch from Cody Woodhouse to get the job done.

"It was a fastball right down the middle. Just bunt it," Lee said.

And that proved to be enough for the Rebels' latest close call.

Ole Miss (18-4) hosts Missouri this weekend. Arkansas State is now 11-9.

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