By Parrish Alford/ NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – No. 18 Ole Miss faces a stiff test as it opens the home portion of its SEC baseball schedule: No. 2 Florida.
The Rebels took two of three from a ranked opponent, Kentucky, on the road last week. They got solid starts from Drew Pomeranz – the current SEC pitcher of the week – and Aaron Barrett, but were unable to pull of a sweep when Kentucky scored 12 runs on Sunday.
Game times at Swayze Field against Florida are 6:30 tonight, 6 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday. Saturday’s game will be televised by CSS.
The Gators (17-3, 3-0 SEC) swept Mississippi State at home last week. Florida leads the SEC in fielding (.985), is fifth in hitting (.317) and sixth in pitching (3.60).
Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco goes into the weekend with TBA in his Sunday pitching spot. That was right-hander Trent Rothlin earlier this season but has been left-hander Matt Tracy the last two weeks.
Ole Miss (17-5, 2-1 SEC) has given up 12, 10 and 12 runs in the last three Sunday games, all losses.
The Rebels’ 3.33 team earned run average is fourth in the SEC.
“It’s hard to get all three of those guys clicking at one time. Every year it’s like that,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said.
The Rebels also had some issues in the bullpen. David Goforth, who had been the closer, was hit hard in two appearances, giving up eight hits, 10 runs, all of them earned, in 11⁄3 innings.
Bright spots from the bullpen were junior college transfer Eric Callender and redshirt freshman Brett Huber.
“The rotation never stays the same throughout the season. You see a lot of TBAs, and part of that is just trying to find the right guy, the right matchup for what the other team’s doing,” Bianco said.
Tracy has pitched well in spots, Bianco said.
Rothlin, a junior college transfer who pitched at Clemson as a freshman two years ago, had a strong relief outing Wednesday against St. Louis, throwing three scoreless, hitless innings in a 14-5 Ole Miss win.
Ole Miss LHP Drew Pomeranz (3-0, 1.23) vs. Florida LHP Alex Panteliodis (5-0, 1.52)
Ole Miss RHP Aaron Barrett (5-0, 1.69) vs. Florida LHP Brian Johnson (1-1, 4.29)
Ole Miss TBA vs. Florida RHP Hudson Randall (2-0, 3.80)