OXFORD, Miss. – It was a pitching duel most fans would have expected on Friday night with Bobby Wahl and Kevin Ziomeck going toe-to-toe, but the Commodores dealt the final blow as No. 16 Ole Miss (23-7, 4-6 SEC) fell to No. 2 Vanderbilt (27-4, 9-1 SEC) by a score of 3-1.
Both starters limited opportunities and repeatedly worked out of sticky situations before the Commodores took the lead late and held on for the win.
Ole Miss right-hander Tanner Bailey (1-1) took the loss for the Rebels, allowing two runs on two hits with a walk and a strikeout in 2.0 innings of relief work. Bailey entered the game in the seventh with the bases loaded and two outs before coaxing a groundout to end the inning and keep the game tied at one.
Wahl took no decision for the second straight weekend after turning in a quality start. It is only the first loss for the Rebels in 2013 when Wahl, who is 6-0 on the year, has started the game. The junior right-hander struck out eight with six walks and allowed the one unearned run in his 6.2 innings of work.
Vanderbilt would go on to take the lead in the eighth inning on a sac fly and extended the lead in the ninth with one more run.
Ziomeck (6-1) picked up the win, allowing one run on three hits with four walks and three strikeouts. Brian Miller picked up his ninth save, working the final 1.2 innings and allowing only three hits with a strikeout.
“It was a tough game for us,” Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said. “It was one of those Friday night, SEC wars where two aces locked up. Both guys, (Kevin) Ziomek and Bobby (Wahl), pitched great. I’m disappointed that we didn’t do enough to win the game. There were a couple of instances throughout the game, that if we do things differently offensively and defensively, we have a much better shot to win the game. The moral is at the end we didn’t. They did a little bit more than we did.”
Ole Miss struck first, pushing a run home in the third inning, a sign that usually bodes well for the Rebels who held an 18-1 record on the year when scoring first entering the game.
Will Allen singled through the right side to open the inning and moved to second when Tanner Mathis drew a two-out walk to keep the inning alive. Austin Anderson then singled through the right side to bring Allen home and put Ole Miss on top 1-0.
The Commodores tied things in the fifth, pushing a run home when Xavier Turner stole home with two outs to tie the game at one. Turner drew a two-out walk then went to second on a failed pickoff attempt by the Rebels when the ball got away from the Rebels’ first baseman and allowed him to advance. A wild pitch moved him to third.
Ole Miss intentionally put Conrad Gregor on first, and then Turner scored when Gregor got caught in a rundown on a steal attempt and the Rebels failed to put him out.
The Rebels squashed a Vanderbilt rally in the seventh, stranding three Commodores with a key groundout, but the nation’s second-ranked team would take the lead in the next inning.
Mike Yastrzemski was hit by a pitch to open the eighth and moved to second on a one-out walk of Rhett Wiseman. Vanderbilt then executed a double steal with Spencer Navin at the plate and Yastrzemski slid under the tag at third in a bang-bang play to get into position for a sac fly to right that put the Commodores on top 2-1.
Ole Miss would put two men on in the eighth with one out, but Vanderbilt would get out of the inning with a fly out and a groundout to maintain the one-run lead.
Vanderbilt then got an insurance run in the ninth when Tony Kemp scored from second on a two-out single from Connor Harrell. Kemp doubled to open the inning and set up the scoring play on the hit from the Commodore cleanup hitter.
The Rebels mounted one more rally attempt in the night with back-to-back singles to open the inning. Vanderbilt was able to escape the rally, however, with three straight outs as Ole Miss left both men stranded in the ninth.
The two teams will take the field for game two of the series at 4 p.m. on Saturday afternoon at Swayze Field. The game will be broadcast on the internet by ESPN3.