For Bianco, Rebels, it's time for change

BY PARRISH ALFORD
Daily Journal

Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco is hoping a change in his pitching rotation will spark a change in his team's on-the-field fortunes.

The Rebels lead the SEC's Western Division at 3-3 but are 6-9 overall after a 9-0 start.

Ole Miss (15-9, 3-3) plays at Alabama (13-11, 2-4) this weekend.

Alabama is 4-6 in its last 10 but has won four straight, including the last two in last week's 2-1 Crimson Tide series victory over Vanderbilt.

The only Western Division team to have a non-losing record in its last 10 games is Auburn at 5-5.

Game times in Tuscaloosa are 6:30 p.m. today, 4 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday.

In a 3-2, 10-inning loss to Southern Mississippi on Tuesday, the Rebels played better defense than they did in losing two of three against Florida last weekend, but pitching and hitting were still sub-par.

Bianco announced on Monday that he was changing his weekend rotation, inserting freshman left-hander Drew Pomeranz in place of sophomore Nathan Baker. The change doesn't stop there. Pomeranz will pitch Saturday's game, while junior Cody Satterwhite moves into the Sunday slot.

“The reason for that is we think when a team has already faced Lance Lynn on Friday, it really doesn't have to change its approach at the plate much when it faces Satterwhite on Saturday,” Bianco said. “They're both big, power right-handers who throw 70 percent fastballs. When we throw the big left-hander (Pomeranz) in there, it gives them a different look.”

Pomeranz is 1-0 in 171-3 innings of mostly relief work. He's walked six and struck out 26. Today will be his second start.

The rotation shuffle addresses the pitching. Bianco announced no player demotions or promotions to alter an offense that has scored fewer than five runs in three of its last four SEC games and managed only three runs in a 4-3 loss to Central Arkansas on March 18.

Bianco did move leadoff hitter Jordan Henry down to the nine spot in the batting order against Southern Miss. Henry was 0-for-4 in the game as his average dropped to .245.

Although Cody Overbeck is hitting .398 and takes a 24-game hitting streak to Tuscaloosa, Ole Miss is hitting .310 as a team.

Jeremy Travis, David Kindred and Cullan Kight are reserves who could see more at-bats if the status quo remains unchanged.

“We're not getting on base and creating opportunities for ourselves,” Bianco said. “Jordan's having a tough stretch, but it's been tough on a lot of guys. A lot of averages have slumped down. We need to get Jordan, Zach Miller, Michael Guerrero and some others who aren't swinging as well as they were at the beginning of the season to produce.”