A couple of other things to wrap up Day 1.
First, Mike Bianco liked the way his team swung the bats. Eleven hits for Ole Miss, four of them doubles, but the Rebels needed more than four runs out of that. They’ll need to be more efficient tomorrow against Arkansas. …
Second, Kentucky looked like it was in mail it in mode. The back half of the season has taken a toll on this group, just 2-7 over the last nine SEC games. The effort was there, but a spring in the step seemed to be lacking. Kentucky is usually a pretty chirpy team in the dugout. Didn’t see that today. …
Finally, Jeremy Massie’s performance was huge. As Bianco stated in his postgame, the Rebels likely would not have faced an elimination game today had they pitched better from the bullpen the last several weeks. They finished two games behind South Carolina in the overall standings. They lost that many leads in the Kentucky series alone. That doesn’t take into account two lost leads at Auburn, one against MSU and one at LSU.
Massie began the day with a 3.86 ERA in 18.2 innings over 15 appearances. Those appearances have been spaced out, though. He was good in the Kentucky series but didn’t pitch agains until MSU when he was roughed up in the Sunday game as the Bulldogs rallied from six runs back.
Today Massie entered with one out and two on in the seventh. His first batter reached on a swinging bunt. Massie himself fielded it on the grass on the third base side. He had no play. Bases loaded, one out. Then he gets a pop-up and a ground ball to strand three.
He went out for the eighth as well, a different sort of feel for a guy who usually enters in the middle of an inning. He faced four batters in the eighth, allowing only a two-out walk to Kentucky center fielder Austin Cousion, a tough out. He followed the Cousino walk with a fly ball to get out of the inning.
It was a bit of a different stage for Massie, and he admitted to being nervous.
Kentucky coach Gary Henderson said Massie “did a good job of mixing his pitches.”
Here’s Bianco on Massie:
He’s a strike thrower. “I thought he pitched terrific. He was down in the zone. The disappointing thing if you want to be very critical was the (Austin) Cousino walk. After the first-pitch ball we went strike, then he threw four balls in a row. He didn’t look nervous out there. That was a tough situation, probably a lot bigger than a lot of people imagine.”
Massie went 1.2 innings and threw 22 pitches, giving up one hit and one walk.