By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Severe weather moved the Ole Miss baseball team indoors on Monday, but that didn’t keep David Goforth from wearing a severe smile.
The Ole Miss right-hander, the Saturday starter in the Rebels’ weekend rotation, was still celebrating his first win of the year.
He hopes it won’t be too long before he records another one, and he’ll get his next chance Saturday afternoon at 2 against Georgia.
The Rebels (19-11, 4-5 SEC) and Bulldogs (16-14, 6-3) begin their series tonight at 6:30 at Swayze Field and will conclude it Sunday at 1:30.
Georgia is coming off an SEC series sweep of Mississippi State where it allowed only five runs. The Bulldogs are 10th in the league in earned run average at 4.24.
Ole Miss lost its series at LSU 2-1.
Though Goforth has been competitive, getting into or beyond the sixth inning in most starts, his run support had been lacking. As a result, Goforth was 0-4 on the year, just 1-10 over the last two years.
Finally, the runs came, 16 of them as Ole Miss totaled 18 hits and won the Saturday game at LSU 16-3.
“If you can’t find a way to win with 16 runs, you need to hang it up,” Goforth joked.
Maintaining good humor hasn’t always been easy for the Philadelphia native.
Why poor run support occasionally follows one pitcher is one of the game’s great mysteries.
For his part, Goforth went into the the LSU series with a 3.38 earned run average. He pitched six innings, scattering seven hits and allowing just two runs.
Goforth lowered his ERA to 3.32 and for the season has given up an average of 2.2 earned runs in his seven starts.
Even though he called Goforth’s pitching this season “terrific,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco considered pulling him from the rotation for the Tennessee series. The logic was to strengthen a bullpen that had been hit hard by injuries, but the Saturday run-support issue was also a factor.
“At the end of the day, weighing the options, and as well as (Goforth’s) been pitching, it was hard to change,” Bianco said.
Goforth, a power thrower, split time between the bullpen and the rotation last year and ended the season 1-6 with a 9.43 ERA.
His improved numbers this year are due in large part to the addition of a cut fastball. Opponents are hitting .266 against him, but he’s given up just two home runs in 431/3 innings compared to the 15 home runs he allowed in 561/3 innings last year.
While most college players find a place to play in the summer, Goforth got away from the games and focused on different ways to improve his game. The cut fastball was a result of that work.
“I just try to hold down the big inning, and no matter what happens compete,” Goforth said. “You have to keep going out every weekend, doing the things you can do and keep the team in it to give us a chance to win.”
Contact Parrish Alford at 678-1600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.