Published on April 26th, 2015 | by Carver Rayburn0
Rebels take series from Alabama; NCAA Tournament hopes still alive
By Taylor Rayburn
Having already secured the series, Ole Miss hoped to cushion their NCAA tournament resume on Sunday.
The search for a Sunday starter continues. The Rebels entered the day at 23-21 with an RPI of 29. They also are credited with having the toughest schedule in the country. A sweep would have given the Rebels some cushion from falling under .500.
In games one and two, Ole Miss starting pitchers Christian Trent and Brady Bramlett went 8 and 7.1 innings, respectively. In game three, the full bullpen was used, and it did not end well, as Alabama scored 13 runs to take game three in a 13-4 victory and Ole Miss fell to 23-22 (10-11 SEC).
Starting pitcher Will Stokes did not even finish the first inning. After giving up four runs he was pulled, and Jacob “Wags” Waguespack came in relief.
“For sure,” said Ole Miss Head Coach Mike Bianco on if he will weigh other options for the Sunday starter. “It’s unfortunate, he (Stokes) had given us some opportunities; we can’t be 50-50 with just opportunities . . . it is one thing to be 50-50 with wins, but to be 50-50 with opportunities is a concern.”
Wags pitched until the fourth inning. He had three strikeouts, gave up four hits and only allowed one run. In the fourth Wyatt Short entered the game. Short gave up four runs and six hits in 2.2 innings.
Mitchel Babb, who entered the game during the seventh inning, gave up a two RBI single. After that he threw a wild pitch, allowing another run. Babb ended up giving up two runs and two hits in 2.1 innings. Needless to say, Alabama hit the ball really well and Ole Miss’ bullpen was depleted.
“Our job is to come in and pound the zone,” said Waguespack on the relief effort today. “We didn’t get it done today, we gotta be better and pound the zone with two or three pitches and give ourselves a chance to win.”
Senior catcher Austin Knight is on fire. In 183 at bats prior, he had zero home runs. In game two he hit a homer and then in his first at bat today he hit another homer. Knight finished with three hits on three at bats and two RBI Sunday.
“More about sticking to an approach,” said Knight on his new found home run hitting. “You see the pitch you’re looking for and just hitting it and not missing it, that’s all it is.”
The goal now as Ole Miss heads into the home stretch, the goal is to stay above .500. Even with a good RPI and the number one strength of schedule, if the Rebels fall below .500 their chances of making the NCAA tournament become questionable.
“Every game matters these next three or four weeks,” said Knight. “Today was disappointing, but getting two of three, and playing as well as we did yesterday, was a good sign.”
The Rebels will be back in action on Tuesday in the Governor’s Cup versus Mississippi State in Pearl. After that they will travel to Missouri, who is 26-17 on the year.