As shortstop A.J. Simcox’s sixth-inning single touched down in the outfield grass, a wave of excitement and relief instantly overcame the Tennessee dugout.
The no-hit bid was over. Everyone could relax.
Just as the Volunteer bench became a bit more enthusiastic, an inning-ending double play squashed all momentum and any potential offensive threat.
It was just that kind of night.
Although Ole Miss starting pitcher Bobby Wahl (8-0) couldn’t quite pull off the no-hitter, he more than held his own on the mound, tossing a complete game shutout en route to a 5-0 Rebel (27-12, 8-8 SEC) victory over UT (17-19, 5-11 SEC) Friday evening at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
“I’m a little confused on the lack of energy and the urgency,” head coach Dave Serrano said. “We have a chance to come out and beat a good team on a Friday night, which we haven’t done very often. To win a series, it starts with Friday. (The loss) doesn’t take away (the opportunity) to win the series, but we just had no energy. I’ll take the blame for that. I’m the head coach."
The loss halted Tennessee’s three-game winning streak while also thwarting an opportunity to claw back to .500 for the first time since March 31.
“We kind of resorted back to earlier in the year when we were kind of passive and tentative and kind of wondering what was going to happen,” Serrano said. “We can’t win enough to ever get bored with winning.”
Although the offensive struggles highlighted the loss, inconsistencies on the mound again plagued the Volunteers, something that was absent during Tennessee’s three straight victories.
Freshman starter Aaron Quillen (1-2), looking for his second win of the season, avoided trouble in the first two frames but ran into issues in the middle innings.
Ole Miss leadoff hitter Tanner Mathis got the Rebels on the board in the third with an RBI double, and just one inning later, teammates Preston Overbey and Christian Helsel followed suit with back-to-back run-scoring two-baggers, pushing the Ole Miss lead to 3-0.
The Kingsport, Tenn., native would exit after the fourth, surrendering three runs on eight hits, while striking out one.
“When things go good for Aaron he pretty much rocks and rolls,” Serrano said. “But when things go a little sideways, he kind of gives in a little bit, and that’s the part he’s got to get over.”
The Rebels scraped across a fourth run in the seventh via two singles and an error.
Ole Miss catcher Stuart Turner put the finishing touches on the victory with a ninth inning solo homer.
The silver lining on what was an all-around disappointing night for Dave Serrano’s squad was undoubtedly the play of the Volunteer defense as Tennessee racked up three outfield assists, all resulting in a Rebel base runner thrown out at home.
Each outfielder, freshman Vincent Jackson, sophomore Parker Wormsley and junior Pierce Bily chimed in to make catcher David Houser a busy man and give the Volunteers their first three-outfield assist game since April 27, 2005.
“Guys were just coming home, and my mentality was I was just going to block the plate," Houser said. "The plate’s mine, and I treat it like they’re trying to run me over. I love (blocking the plate). It’s fun to be able to say I’m more man than you.”
Tennessee will look to get back in the win column as they send junior Nick Williams to the mound tomorrow in Game 2. First pitch is scheduled for 4:00 p.m.