Mike Bianco said getting to know Jake Gibbs and to coach Gibbs’ grandson, Luke, are some of the special aspects of becoming the winningest coach in Ole Miss baseball history.
By: Jeff Roberson, OMSpirit.com
Bianco, with his team’s 8-5 win against Lipscomb Saturday, won his 486th game as head coach of the Rebels, passing Gibbs’ mark of 485 set from 1972-90.
Bianco is in his 13th season with Ole Miss baseball and now has a record of 486-279-1 – the lone tie coming in year one (2001) when weather forced a halt to a non-conference game in Oxford. Gibbs, who coached Ole Miss for 19 seasons, had a 485-389-8 record, with some of those ties coming due to darkness as many ballparks in that era didn’t have lights – including old Swayze Field.
Bianco said he was humbled by the longevity and the winning, and also the fact that he’s up there with Gibbs, a legend.
“Jake Gibbs obviously is one of the great baseball men, not just at Ole Miss but in Mississippi,” he said. “He’s a legend here as a two-sport athlete, and then came back to coach at his alma mater and was the all-time winningest coach. He’s still a big part of the community, and his grandson’s playing on our baseball team.
“The name Jake Gibbs is familiar not just to Ole Miss fans but to everybody, and not just in Mississippi or the Southeast. To be up there with him is quite an honor.”
The Rebels were cruising to another win over Lipscomb following Friday’s 10-0 victory. They led 8-0 Saturday after six innings and appeared to be in complete control. But baseball can be this way, and the Rebels soon found themselves in a battle.
Starter Mike Mayers, who went six innings and allowed no runs on one hit with seven strikeouts and one walk, was replaced to start the seventh by left-hander Austin Blunt. But the juco transfer lasted through four batters and only got one out, leaving the game to Scott Weathersby, who lasted through five batters. The Rebels would get out of the inning when Aaron Greenwood notched a fly out of the first batter faced.
The Bison looked to mount a second rally in the ninth, putting two men on to start the inning, but Brett Huber squelched the rally attempt with back-to-back strikeouts and a groundout to first to preserve the victory and clinch the weekend series.
Bianco said overall the team has responded in situations this season that called for it. And not just in one phase.
“It’s been in all three phases,” he said. “You need all kinds, and it’s not going to always be easy. It’s baseball. It’s a crazy game. We were tested today and were able to handle it.
“It got away from us a little bit, and that happens,” Bianco continued. “Sometimes it’s good to be tested. What looked like it was going to be a way to cruise to victory wasn’t today. Proud of the way they handled it.”
They’ve been able to handle it because most of the time someone has always been there to step up when needed.
“It doesn’t matter who it is, it seems like it’s a different guy every day,” Mayers said. “Today it was Greenwood picking up Blunt and Weathersby. So that’s good that it’s happening.”
Auston Bousfield, with his first home run of the season, said he was supposed to get the “game” shirt. But with Bianco getting the victory, the team had already decided to award it to their head coach.
“I just won my first shirt since I’ve been here,” said the sophomore center fielder. “We’d made an agreement as a team before the game that the guy that wins the shirt has to give it to Coach B. So I actually didn’t get my first shirt today.
“But that’s OK,” Bousfield concluded. “He deserves it.”
Sunday’s game has been moved up to a 12 noon start.