The Rebels are having problems scoring runs. They've now scored one run in their last three games. Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said this one was as much about the pitchers doing well as an anything else.
“It was one of those Friday night SEC wars with two aces locked up,” Bianco said. “I thought both guys pitched great. Just disappointed we didn’t do enough to win the game. And when I say that, I don’t mean it just as a general statement. There are a couple of plays if we do things differently offensive or defensively, we have a much better shot at the game. They did a little more than we did.”
Ole Miss went up 1-0 on an Austin Anderson RBI single in the third inning, but the Rebels left two runners stranded in the frame.
Vanderbilt tied the contest in the fifth on a rough inning defensively by the Rebels. Xavier Turner walked after there were two outs. He was able to move to second on an error by first baseman Christian Helsel. After Conrad Gregor was intentionally walked, Turner was able to steal home after an attempt to throw Gregor out at second.
Ole Miss would put two men on in the eighth with one out, but Vanderbilt would get out of the inning with a fly out and a groundout to maintain the one-run lead.
Vanderbilt then got an insurance run in the ninth. Ole Miss had one more rally attempt with back-to-back singles to open the final inning. Vanderbilt was able to escape the rally with three straight outs as Ole Miss left both men stranded in the ninth.
Bianco started Lance Wilson in right field and Christian Helsel at first base. It was the first start for Helsel, a freshman.
“We haven’t scored (much lately), and it was a chance to get some other guys in the lineup,” Bianco said. “Some guys that deserved opportunities. Some right-handed guys. I thought both of them did terrific, especially Helsel. First college start against the No 2 ranked team in the country at first base and a position you’re not used to, I thought he was terrific tonight.”
Bianco said the scoring play for Vanderbilt that tied it 1-1 was a lack of execution on his teams’ part.
“We don’t execute that defense. The play is to go after the runner, but we don’t. We catch the ball and check the runner at third, then go after him. It actually screws up the timing of the play. Christian actually ended up running past him, but he did exactly what he was supposed to do. We screwed it up in the middle of the infield.”
And then there were those missed opportunities.
“Later in the game we get an HBP, a walk, a steal, then miss a hit and run,” Bianco said. “The chance to strike the guy out with 1-2, and they get their second run and don’t get a hit. Lot of missed opportunites.”
Tanner Bailey (1-1) got the loss. Kevin Ziomek, the Vandy starter (6-1), got the win.
“It was one of those games where you have to keep your composure on the mound,” Bianco said. “Bobby (Wahl) pitched terrific, but he had to really work. There were situations that some were his fault. He had to pitch out of some jams. That takes a lot out of you. It’s different when you’re cruising through the inning. That kind of wore on him throughout the night.”
Game two is set for 4 p.m. Saturday.