RALEIGH, N.C. – Jason Inghram said the scouting report did not mention vulnerability against left-handed pitching and that he had no idea that might be the case for the Ole Miss team he’ll start against today, in the opener of the NCAA tournament’s Raleigh Regional.
The polite thing to do is to take Inghram at his word, and that would be easier had he not flashed a wide grin after making that statement to a small group of reporters after William & Mary finished its practice at North Carolina State’s Doak Field on Thursday afternoon.
“I’m not aware of that, but I plan on making them struggle. It will be a tough matchup,” said the southpaw, who is 8-6 with an earned run average of 3.46.
The Rebels and Tribe, both 37-22, start play at 1 p.m.
Neither team is pitching its ace, with Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco holding Bobby Wahl, William & Mary coach Jamie Pinzino saving right-hander John Farrell (11-2, 2.80).
Much of the pre-regional talk on Thursday centered on a possible matchup of Wahl and N.C. State left-hander Carlos Rodon, who were teammates, along with N.C. State outfielder Trea Turner, on Team USA last summer.
Inghram is an obstacle to that matchup. He was far better inside Colonial Athletic Association play than out of it, when he was 2-3 with a 6.29 ERA.
W&M coach Jamie Pinzino spoke as a game-planner who was aware of the Rebels’ lefty numbers but not one who made it the dominant factor in his decisions.
He considered it some, “but to be honest not a ton. We thought it was the best chance for us to go out and put our best foot forward in Game 1.”
Ole Miss is 10-14 in games started by a left-hander, the 10th win coming last week in the SEC tournament against Kentucky’s Jerad Grundy.
“We’ve kind of struggled with them a little bit, but we like facing them now,” Ole Miss catcher Stuart Turner said. “So many teams have thrown them at us that we’ve made the adjustments.”
The Rebels are hitting .264 against left-handers, ranking them ninth in the SEC in that category.
They hit .282 against right-handers, sixth in the SEC.
They will have a better chance for success on offense today if shortstop Austin Anderson is available. He did not practice Thursday because of a stomach virus that first appeared Wednesday night, Bianco said.
Anderson is the Rebels’ third-leading hitter at .300 and is second on the team with 38 RBIs.
“I’d be shocked if he wasn’t playing,” Bianco said. “He just got sick in the middle of the night.”
Collectively, the Tribe sports a 4.16 ERA and a .296 batting average.
“We’re capable of doing a lot of damage here and excited to get going,” Inghram said.
Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal