I didn’t make baseball last night but will today for the 1:30 start in Game 2 of the UCF series.
A couple of observations …
– I wrote in the series advance about Mike Bianco’s desire for increased “toughness” for this year’s team. There has been evidence of it three times in the last week. The Rebels really didn’t show it last Sunday against Georgia State when they lost a late lead and were unable to regain it in the ninth eighth or ninth innings.
Last night’s win — 4-3 in 13 innings — was the third last at-bat win in a row for Ole Miss. This should be beneficial when SEC play starts.
It will start on the road against South Carolina, which remains unbeaten, after rallying from six runs back to beat Clemson at home last night.
– Big game-winning hit for former Tupelo standout John Gatlin. His role on this team is going to that of a right-handed pinch-hitter, and he’s 2-for-5 with two RBIs on the season. Nice to see contributions from a good fellow who has struggled with injuries during his Ole Miss career.
– Another strong start for Chris Ellis. He didn’t figure into the decision, but he went seven innings with only one hit and one unearned run allowed. He walked four and struck out five. You can absorb those walks when you’re not giving up hits, and the Knights couldn’t hit Ellis. He’s now gone 22 innings in three starts without allowing an earned run. He’s building a lot of momentum for a guy who kind of took a step back last year. The Rebels need him to keep up the pace in SEC play. That’s the next big hurdle, and he’s off to a great start.
– Roles are still being defined in the bullpen. Aaron Greenwood was not sharp, and for the first time Wyatt Short wasn’t either. Josh Laxer gave up two hits but didn’t walk a batter in 2.2 innings. In 7.2 innings this season he’s allowed no runs, one walk and 10 strikeouts. He’s a candidate for comeback player of the year if he keeps it up.
– On the toughness thing again. Pinch-hitting is not an easy assignment, and the Rebels were 3-for-4 in that category last night. In addition to Gatlin, freshman Brantley Bell and sophomore Holt Perdzock also had pinch hits, the latter for the second time this week.
– Juco transfer lefty Christian Trent (2-0, 1.38, 13 IP) throws today.