PARRISH ALFORD: Matchups fuel coaches’ rotation decisions


RALEIGH, N.C. – Coaches burst from the womb with deception as part of their make-up. They can’t help themselves.

Some can make it an art form.

For most, however, coachspeak is about holding all your cards close and being extremely careful with the release of information even when the decision seems obvious.

North Carolina State coach Elliott Avent let it be known early that he would not waste his top pitcher, power left-hander Carlos Rodon, against No. 4 seed Binghamton and its 171 RPI.

Rodon, the national leader with 151 strikeouts, will throw for the Wolfpack in Saturday’s second round against Ole Miss – if the seeds follow according to plan. Of course, that assumes the Rebels take care of business against No. 3 seed William & Mary Friday at 1 p.m. in the Raleigh Regional.

Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco announced Tuesday afternoon that he will save his ace, Bobby Wahl, for the second game, setting up a potential star matchup. If it is Wahl and Rodon, and both are on top of their games, nine innings could pass in an hour and a half.

Bianco’s delayed decision was less about deception and more about prudence. William & Mary is the No. 2 team out of the Colonial Athletic Association. The CAA has three teams in the field of 64, which is two more than Conference USA, against which the Rebels were 0-4.

The decision to hold Wahl is not because William & Mary is not a credible opponent but because Mike Mayers is a very good No. 2.

In last year’s regional at College Station, Mayers went 61⁄3 innings with only four hits allowed and struck out nine in a 6-3 win over No. 1 seed Texas A&M.

More recently Mayers, on short rest, pitched 61⁄3 scoreless innings in an SEC elimination game against Kentucky.

Bianco expresses complete confidence in Mayers, so why not give him the ball against William & Mary?

There’s another reason the decision to hold Wahl is obvious.

The Rebels are focused on returning to a super regional for the first time since 2009.

Getting over the hump means matching your best players against the best opponent. Then you let the chips fall.

Parrish Alford (parrish.alford@journalinc.com) covers Ole Miss for the Daily Journal. He blogs daily at Inside OleMissSports.com.

Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal