By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Ole Miss has found a way to win the close games early this baseball season. Now Mike Bianco wants his players to find a way to make the games not so close all the time.
The Rebels took a step in that direction Wednesday evening with what Bianco called his team’s most complete game, an 11-3 win over Austin Peay to take a two-game mid-week sweep of the Governors.
Now Ole Miss (9-1) will try to duplicate that success against a Tulane team that has gotten off to a fast start on the mound.
The Green Wave (7-2) has a rich tradition but this season is trying to get back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2008.
Tulane has off-set a .220 team batting average with a 2.25 team earned run average.
Start times against the Green Wave – amid a forecast heavy on rain for today and Saturday – are 6:30 tonight, noon Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
“They were a top 25 team at the beginning of this season, so they obviously have some guys on the team that can do the work,” Snyder said. “They’re going to come in here and definitely make us play well.”
Back in the swing
Snyder, the Rebels’ designated hitter, has worked his way back since re-injuring his surgically repaired shoulder soon after the beginning of practice. He’s hitting .424 and had his first home run Wednesday in a four-RBI performance.
The Rebels are 4-0 in one-run games, 2-0 in games decided by two runs. But they’ve surpassed six runs in just three games.
“We’ve been very resilient, but we have to continue to fight offensively,” Bianco said. “We have to do a better job of keeping innings alive, stringing at-bats together and getting the timely hits that everyone talks about. I think we’ve done OK to this point.”
While Snyder has gotten healthier, injuries have been a concern, most notably with pitchers Bobby Wahl, a freshman, and R.J. Hively, a junior college transfer. Both have experienced soreness around the elbow and forearm areas of their throwing arms.
Presently, it looks like both can be treated successfully with rest. Hively, in fact, could be pitching in games again by this next week. Wahl, one of the top prospects in the Washington, D.C., metro area last year, is expected to be out a little longer. Both were expected to play key roles on the staff.
Elsewhere, senior outfielder-first baseman Matt Smith, the team’s leading returning hitter, has also had a bout with arm soreness.
Smith was held out of games Sunday in the finale at Houston and Tuesday against Austin Peay. He played Wednesday but was 0 for 3 and is hitting .219 on the season.
“We’ve had some good games, and there are some things we have to do better,” Bianco said. “The good news is we’re getting hits. But we’ve blown some opportunities with runners in scoring position. We have to lock in more at the most critical times.”
Contact Parrish Alford at 678-1600 or email@example.com.