OXFORD, Miss. – It was all about timely hitting on Friday night in the opening weekend of Southeastern Conference play as No. 12 Ole Miss (15-3, 1-0 SEC) claimed a win in a pitcher’s duel, downing Auburn (10-8, 0-1 SEC) by a score of 2-1 to take the series opener.
Bobby Wahl (4-0) picked up the win, allowing one unearned run on six hits with a walk and six strikeouts across 6.0 innings of work. Dylan Chavez and Brett Huber then held the Tigers in check down the stretch on the way to the one-run victory.
Huber picked up his fifth save of the season and 21st of his career in the outing, retiring the side in order with a pair of strikeouts to end the game.
Derek Varnadore (1-2) was effective in the start for the Tigers despite taking the loss, allowing only two runs on five hits with four walks and two strikeouts through 6.2 innings of work.
“It was a typical Friday night in the SEC, and this is why kids come to play in this conference,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. “It was a great crowd and a very well played game by both teams. It was one of those games dominated by pitchers. We just had one more at bat than them and got one more pitch than them, but I thought it was a good game played by both teams.
“(Dylan) Chavez had some good stuff even though he allowed a base hit and hit a guy with a breaking ball,” Bianco said. “We have said all year that you have to make pitches when the game is on the line. You have to make difference makers and he certainly did that.”
Ole Miss struck first on a night where runs were at a premium, loading the bases in the second inning with one out. A hit batter, a single and a walk to three of the first four Rebel batters in the frame set the table for Will Allen. The sophomore catcher ripped a single up the middle to drive in Matt Snyder from third, but it was all the Rebels could get as Auburn’s Varnadore closed the door on the rally with Ole Miss up 1-0.
The Tigers evened things in the third when Creede Simpson scored on a sacrifice fly to right field from Ryan Tella. Creede reached on a single through the left side before an errant throw on a pickoff move allowed him to move from first to third. He scored a batter later on the fly out from Tella.
The Rebels moved in front for good in the fourth when Auston Bousfield scored from second on a single up the middle from Zach Kirksey. Bousfield doubled to open the inning on a ball that hit the top of the fence in left field and bounced back into the field of play, keeping the freshman from notching his first home run of his career. It did, however, set up the go-ahead score on the Kirksey hit a batter later as Ole Miss led 2-1 after the fourth.
It was the only additional run the Rebels would need as the Ole Miss pitching staff allowed only three hits and four base runners over the final five Auburn innings.
Ole Miss and Auburn will take the field for game two of the weekend series at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field.
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