The Tribe, by virtue of its 4-2 win against the second-seeded Rebels Friday, had pushed Ole Miss into the elimination game Saturday against the fourth-seeded Bearcats. William & Mary had lost to the Wolfpack 4-1 Friday night.
With all that in mind, you must know that the Rebels didn't have an easy time of it with Binghamton. The game was tied 2-2 heading into the top of the seventh inning when Bearcat starter Jake Lambert began to wear down a bit in the North Carolina early June heat, and Ole Miss was able to take advantage offensively.
Ole Miss got two runs in the seventh and four more in the eighth to pull away with an 8-2 lead that was basically insurmountable for the team from New York.
"I think I started running out of gas," said Bearcat starter Jake Lambert, considered the ace of the Binghamton pitching staff. "My fast ball was flat all game, so I had to work with my offspeed stuff more. They got some good pitches to hit, and they capitalized. Props to them."
Will Allen got things going for the Rebels in the seventh leading off with a single. Cameron Dishon came in to pinch run for Allen and immediately stole second on the first pitch from Lambert to Christian Helsel. The Rebel freshman sac bunted Dishon to third. Tanner Mathis singled up the middle to score Dishon for a 3-2 UM lead.
BU head coach Tim Sinicki wasted no time in getting Lambert, a senior right-hander, out of the game. In came reliever Jay Lynch, another senior righty, who would go on to finish the game. But he couldn't slow the Rebels down any.
Auston Bousfield sac bunted Mathis to second, and there were two outs. Austin Anderson, with a 4-for-5 game, got a base hit to left to score Mathis from second. Stuart Turner struck out, but the Rebels were back in control.
Rebel starter Bobby Wahl, the junior All-American right-hander, was still in the game at this point and went out after stretch time to keep things where they were, with Ole Miss up 4-2. And he did that.
Once he did that, the Rebels went back out in the top of the eighth to score four more runs to basically put this one away. Andrew Mistone and Preston Overbey led things off with back to back singles. Will Jamison sac bunted them over a base. Holt Perdzock was intentionally walked; then Sikes Orvis flew out to right to score Mistone for a 5-2 Rebel lead.
The Rebels got three more runs with two outs. Mathis was intentionally walked. Bousfield then walked but it was of the unintentional variety as Overbey scored to make it 6-2. Anderson, 4-for-4 to that point, was up next, and with an error on the BU first baseman, the Rebel junior got all the way to second base as two more runs – Mathis and Perdzock – came home to make it 8-2. Turner then grounded out to end a 1-for-5 day for the Rebels' leading hitter.
Tanner Bailey, the Rebel senior righty, relieved Wahl to start the Binghamton eighth.
Bearcat left-fielder Jake Thomas was impressed with Wahl, who allowed two runs on eight hits with two strikeouts and two walks.
"Once he gets into trouble, he finds his way out of it," Thomas said. "He's a great pitcher."
With Bailey on the mound, the Bearcats tacked on two runs, both in the eighth. Two Rebel infield errors also contributed.
But in the ninth with a four-run lead, Bailey finished things up with a three up, three down frame as the Rebels moved on to day three.
Lambert had actually handcuffed the Rebels at times with eight strikeouts on the day. Lynch also had one K.
Anderson was sick two days ago with stomach problems but felt good today, even in the heat. His offensive game showed that.
"Coach (Mike Bianco) just told me to be aggressive," he said. "I'm feeling good now."
Sinicki said his team played hard but played a tough foe in Ole Miss.
"We faced an outstanding team from the SEC and arguably one of the best pitchers in the country," Sinicki said. "We did a good job putting ourselves in positions to score some runs early in the game. We just didn't get the hit when we needed to. That was to Ole Miss' credit, and they jumped on some opportunities they had in the seventh and eighth innings and were able to separate from us. That was the difference in the ballgame."
Bianco said Mathis in the leadoff spot, 2-for-4 on the day with a RBI and three runs scored, was a key for his team as well.
"He played great. He's played great probably over the last three or four weeks," Bianco said. "The batting average says .284 and for it to jump that much, because it doesn't seem too long ago that it was .230, has been big. Certainly you can tell how much better the offense is when he's doing what he does best, getting base hits and getting on."
Bianco said Sam Smith would pitch one of the games Sunday, but a decision hadn't been made that he would go in game one. Perhaps, he said, the outcome of tonight's game would help in that determination. The others in consideration are Jacob Waguespack and Chris Ellis.
Bianco said having Wahl on the mound was obviously a huge key Saturday.
"Fortunately for us we had a big-leaguer on the mound," Bianco said. "A great, great effort by Bobby, now 10-0."
Bianco said there have been three 10-game winners in his Ole Miss tenure.
"Cody Satterwhite in like 2006 and Pete Montrenes in 2001," he said. "The year that Bobby's had, 10-0, sub 2.00 ERA, and as inconsistent as we've played throughout the year, he's been about the most consistent thing on this team."
Bianco said there was no hesitation about pitching Wahl today, even after Friday's loss with Mike Mayers having been the starter.
"No," he said. "After not pitching last week and the way we played yesterday, I knew the pressure would be on today. I knew the kids would feel it. You had to win today to move on. We gambled a little bit, and it didn't turn out like we'd wanted. But I'm glad we had (Bobby) today."