Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Rebels Sweep Alabama

Tanner Mathis has struggled this season. From being a bit banged up to not being quite as productive as normal, the senior left fielder had found the going rough at times. Maybe make that a lot of times.

By: Jeff Roberson, OMSpirit.com

Tanner Mathis

Photo by Adam Brown / HottyToddy.com
Photo by Adam Brown / HottyToddy.com

Tanner Mathis

On Sunday when his team needed him most, the Lake Charles, La., product produced. His RBI single in the 11th to score pinch runner Lance Wilson gave Ole Miss a 4-3 win against Alabama and a much-needed sweep of the visiting Crimson Tide.

“I feel good,” said Mathis, obviously with a new outlook on life as his team sweeps and he drives in the winning run in the finale. “My body’s holding up now. I wasn’t finding the holes like I had the last three years. But I want to just keep doing things to get on base to keep the offense going.”

Or in the case of the final inning of this one, when others got on base, keep the offense going and end the game.

Mathis continues to get on base, although his average is down from last year’s .359 to .224 going into this weekend. But he has continued to fight for his team and tried to do what it takes to help.

“I couldn’t be happier for a guy like Tanner Mathis,” Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said, his team now 26-10 overall and 7-8 in Southeastern Conference play. “He deserves that. He’s had a tough year statistically to this point. But he’s a grinder and a guy you want up in that situation. He’s not going to strike out. He’s going to move the ball.”

The Rebels got on the scoreboard in a hurry and took a quick 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Austin Anderson singled to get Mathis home who had walked. With Stuart Turner at the plate, Anderson tried to steal second, was thrown out, and was injured. He tried to play defensively in the top of the second but was removed after a throwing error to first.

“He tweaked or pulled a hamstring, the one he pulled in preseason,” Bianco said.

There’s a good chance Anderson will need a few days to recover fully.

Also in that first, an Andrew Mistone single scored Bousfield, and the Rebels were in good shape after an inning leading 2-0. Problem was, they didn’t score again until they trailed 3-2 in the bottom of the eighth.

It was Mistone again with a RBI single, this time scoring Holt Perdzock who had singled earlier in the eighth.

In the ninth after Scott Weathersby didn’t allow anything for the Crimson Tide, Will Allen singled to lead off the bottom of the ninth. Preston Overbey sac bunted pinch runner Cameron Dishon to second. After Will Jamison flew out to right in foul territory, Mathis was hit by a pitch. Bousfield then hit one to the second baseman who flipped to the shortstop for the out at second base.

But that set up things for a winning 11th. The bases were loaded with one out when Mathis came up and got the game-winner.

“Proud of the guys,” Bianco said. “We made a few mistakes. But man did they play hard today. They were locked in from the first pitch going full speed. Our guys played so hard today.”

They actually did that all weekend, and it paid off with a sweep.

The Rebels used seven pitchers in the game – starter Sam Smith, Chris Ellis, Aaron Greenwood, Matt Denny, Scott Weathersby, Jeremy Massie, and Brett Huber, who got the win.

Alabama fell to 22-16, 8-7.

The Rebels are back in action Monday night at Autozone Park against Memphis. Freshman RHP Brady Bramlett will start. Tuesday night against Southern Mississippi in Pearl, sophomore righty Josh Laxer will get the nod.

Bianco said there are still enough arms available for those two games given the amount used in the three wins against Alabama.

“The starters the next two nights didn’t throw. But we’ve got some guys like (Austin) Blunt and (Hawtin) Buchanan that can go. We’ll be alright. We can piece it together.”