Ole Miss needed something good to happen. It’s been an up and down season, now at the halfway point overall.
The Rebels inched their way back over .500 to 15-14 Tuesday night with a 7-5 win against the Memphis Tigers before 3,000 fans downtown, more than half who pulled for Ole Miss.
A win over Memphis (17-7) might not always be what the proverbial doctor ordered, although the Tigers have had some success in recent years against Ole Miss. Last season Ole Miss won here at AutoZone Park 9-1.
But this year, any win has been good and often a struggle. And this one Tuesday night just seemed to be more important.
Look no further than who closed this one out. Yes, it’s three days before another Southeastern Conference weekend series. But Scott Weathersby and Wyatt Short finishing things up in this one is basically enough said.
Ole Miss needed a boost. The Rebels needed a lift. Mostly they need wins, and they got an important one here.
“It’s huge for our team,” said Weathersby, who didn’t figure into the decisions that reliever Matt Denny (who got his first win of the season) and Short (with his fourth save) did. “Memphis is good. They can really swing it.
“This is kind of the second half of the season, starting tonight,” Weathersby continued. “As Coach (Bianco) talked about, if we’re going to do it, we have to start doing it now. We can’t say ‘We’ll get them tomorrow.’ We had to start now.”
And for Weathersby, he’s just happy to have been able to finish his outing prior to Short entering to close it. In the bottom of the seventh and Ole Miss up 6-3, Weathersby gave up a RBI triple that appeared to many to be a home run in deep left center. Weathersby headed to third base.
“I was running to back up the bag at third base. I saw it hit off the fence, and I thought it was a home run,” he said. “I threw up my hands a little bit, and the umpire (from home plate, Fred Cannon) was going to get the call at third and just smoked my arm. My elbow went this way, and my hand went the other way. It hyperextended it a little bit, and there is some bruising. It scared me more than anything, because I felt my tendon kind of stretch there. It scared me pretty good.”
But he wasn’t coming out if he didn’t have to, and he stayed in for a few more batters.
“It would have taken a lot (to leave the game),” he said. “After the inning our trainer said it was just bruising, so as long as I’m fine, I wanted to pitch.”
Mike Bianco said they thoroughly checked Weathersby out before he was allowed to stay in the game.
“We wouldn’t have left him in there, but he felt fine and his velocity stayed the same. He has ice on it now, and I’m sure he’ll be fine.”
In the contest Will Golsan, J.B. Woodman, and Colby Bortles all had three hits each as the Rebels racked up 13 on the night. There’s a start.
The Rebels fell behind the Tigers 3-0 but scored three runs in the fifth inning to restart things. Then it was another three-run inning, this time the seventh, that gave Ole Miss a lead it would not relinquish.
A walk by Golsan and a base hit by Errol Robinson to right just out of reach of the Tiger right fielder put runners at the corners. Then a wild pitch from Memphis reliever Colton Hathcock allowed Golsan to score and Robinson to move to second.
Woodman then walked to put runners on first and second. Bortles then launched one to the left field corner to score both and a 6-3 lead for the Rebels. Hathcock’s night was done. So was the Rebels’ scoring that inning.
While the Tigers later closed the gap to one run, Woodman added a solo home run to give Ole Miss the 7-5 advantage heading to the bottom of the ninth.
“Tonight we left five on through the first three innings, and then we got some timely hits the rest of the way,” Bianco said. “It certainly makes a huge difference when you can do that. We had some very, very good ABs.”
“We’ve been struggling as a whole,” Bortles said of the Rebel offense. “It was good for us to break out with two outs and guys on base. We saw it well and hit it well all night.”
Tennessee is up next at home. Bianco pointed out last year’s College World Series team was also 4-5 at this point in league play. But overall the Rebels stood 21-8 after 29 games in 2014.
Tennessee will play at Arkansas State on their way to Oxford. That game is Wednesday night in Jonesboro, Ark. The Volunteers are 11-13 currently and 2-7 in SEC action.
“It’s no secret we’ve been fighting and battling,” Bianco said. “To beat a good Memphis team on the road downtown with a lot of Ole Miss fans in the stands, hopefully this will be something that jump starts us.”
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