By Parrish Alford
OMAHA, Neb. – Whether an Ole Miss pitcher throws a fastball, change-up or slider, whether 93 miles an hour or something less, odds are that decision originated from the dugout, not the mound.
Christian Trent has thrown 102 innings this season, and not once has he shaken off his coach.
Mike Bianco will call pitches as a head coach in the College World Series for the first time tonight at 7 when the Rebels take on Virginia.
Like a quarterback changing a play at the line of scrimmage, Ole Miss pitchers have the choice to opt out. Few of them do.
Trent never has.
“He told me before we went out in the super, ‘We’re going to throw straight fastballs.’ I don’t disagree with it,” said Trent, who will start the Rebels’ second CWS game Tuesday against either TCU or Texas Tech.
Chris Ellis, drafted in the third round by the Angels last week, will start for the Rebels tonight against the Cavaliers (49-14).
Not long after being drafted, Ellis had his second-shortest outing of the year as Ole Miss lost 9-5 to Louisiana-Lafayette in Game 1 of the super regional.
The Cajuns hit him just once, but that was a three-run home run. He walked three batters and hit another.
Ellis has worked in the bullpen since Lafayette. He says that his mechanics are “synced back up” and believes he’ll have a better outing against a Virginia team that is hitting .281.
“There will be a lot of adrenaline pumping. I’ve got to throw strikes and fill up the zone,” Ellis said. “I don’t think there are going to be a lot of home runs hit. It’s a big ballpark. We’ll see.”
Virginia at No. 3 is the highest of only two national seeds in the CWS. TCU is No. 7.
The Rebels defeated the No. 6 seed Ragin Cajuns, a team with a very different make-up – That means more hitting than pitching – than Virginia.
While he puts two coaches in charge of producing a scouting report when Bianco calls pitches it’s about his guy not the other lineup.
“We want to know some tendencies, but the truth of the matter is Ellis usually pitches the same way every time. We’ll work hard on the scouting report, but it’s more about who’s on the mound and what they can do to be successful,” Bianco said.
The two most important reasons for the coach to call the pitches are that he has all the information on the individual hitters in the dugout and that if the result is not as planned it takes the pitcher off the hook.
Although Trent has never shaken off his coach, he might want to consider it.
That can be important at times, depending on how a batter positions himself in the box. That’s not something Bianco can easily see.
Drew Pomeranz was often aware of such positioning, Bianco said.
Bianco gives his pitchers that option. He just wants them to be able to tell him why they changed the pitch.
“My goal is to get them out just like it’s his goal,” Bianco said. “It’s not about ego. It would be scary that I would be calling the pitches if I’m getting shaken off a lot. Either they don’t trust me, or I’m not very good at it. Either way, that’s not good.”