“A really good game by us. I thought we played really well in all three phases,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco after his team moved to 11-2. “We pitched it. We played good defense. And of course we came out and really swung it, especially in the first, and gave our ace some runs.”
Ole Miss scored those six runs in the first inning on eight singles, but Houston left its starter, Jared Ray, in the game. Actually, the Cougars (6-7) never had anyone warming up in the bullpen that inning.
But in the second inning when Alex Yarbrough and Matt Snyder both singled to start things off again, then Houston head coach Todd Whitting brought in reliever Jordan Mannisto. Good move.
The Rebels got nothing in the second and for the next three innings after that off Mannisto.
Ole Miss managed to score a couple in the fifth inning, a run each coming off relievers Ryan Vruggink and Matt Hernandez.
But the story by then had already become Wahl, who moved to 3-0 with the win and had a no-hitter going with one out in the sixth. Then Cougar Casey Grayson got a base hit to break it up.
The final line on the Rebel sophomore right-hander was six innings pitched with one hit, three walks, and 10 strikeouts. The 10 Ks were a career high.
“The biggest thing was just locating the fast ball down and throwing strikes with my slider,” he said. “It was a good outing for me.”
Wahl admitted it was hard not to keep up with things like the no-hitter and number of strikeouts.
“You try your best not to,” he said. “But I knew I was doing pretty well. The biggest thing was to continue from inning to inning and build on the momentum and continue to throw strikes.
“You’ve got guys saying ‘Hey, you look over at the wall yet?’ Things like that,” he continued. “But you’ve got to stay within yourself and continue to battle.”
Bianco said Wahl wasn’t going to finish the game, even if he had a no-hitter still going.
“He was coming out regardless at the end of the sixth,” Bianco said. “There was no way he could finish. But I thought he had great stuff, dominant stuff.”
Aaron Greenwood relieved Wahl and pitched an inning, allowing one hit and nothing else. Hawtin Buchanan pitched the ninth, allowing two hits with two strikeouts and working out of a jam that likely wound not have affected the outcome but was a positive for the freshman righty.
After an out, Buchanan gave up a single and a double, then got a strikeout and a fly out to end the game.
Bianco said it was good to see those two come in and compete.
“I thought Aaron did a great job, and then Hawtin came in and was 92-95 and just coming from on top of the mountain throwing straight down. Just very difficult for the hitters. He hung in there. A couple of good blocks by Austin (Knight) behind the plate to save a couple of runs.”
Ole Miss outhit Houston 12-4. Yarbrough said the Rebels were ready from the start.
“It was a great inning,” the junior second baseman said of the first. “We found a lot of barrels, and we knew what our approach was going into the game. Their starter has three quality pitches. But we got the ball up, found some barrels, they found some holes, and we just fed off that the whole game.”
Game two of this series is set for 1:30 p.m. Saturday.